Dark Green: Firm commitments from incumbent: BT (10M), Belgacom, Australian NBN, Swisscom, Austria, Bezeq Israel, Chunghwa Taiwan, Telus Canada, Telekom South Africa, SK Korea, (U.S.) AT&T, Century, Frontier, Windstream, Belgium, Omantel
Mid Pink: Smaller carriers in Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan
- Published: 23 October 2017 23 October 2017
BT is close to a million homes passed with G.fast. Trevor Linney is now leading a rapid rollout, on track for 10M in 2020. BT remains at the forefront of G.fast research and is showing impressive technical capability.
At the management level, BT's beleaguered boss Gavin Patterson quietly made a decision that is enormously risky. To save money, he canceled the original plans for a gigabit network with fiber to the distribution point. Instead, BT is putting DSLAMs at the existing cabinets, reducing speeds to 160 or 330 megabits. That's G.halffast.
New chairman Jan du Plessis may sack Gavin, The Times reports. He certainly should review BT's network plans, which will leave them at a competitive disadvantage.
Gavin's investment cutbacks are understandable. It's tempting to make a short term decision when your stock is down by half, you are blamed for a half billion loss to fraud in Italy, and there is a £14bn black hole in the pension accounts.
With Virgin ready to offer a true gigabit of cable, BT is betting that customers will accept the much slower speeds. There is little or no practical difference for most, but Bell Canada and Wall Street's best Craig Moffet see a trend towards consumers going for the gig.
"The gigabit experience is fast becoming table stakes for service providers to capture and retain broadband-savvy subscribers. As such, service providers must find a way to deliver this experience," analyst Teresa Mastrangelo believes.
The evidence isn't clear yet, but it's certainly possible not offering a gigabit could be a severe mistake.