Thousands of people living in parts of Leeds will be among the first in the country to benefit from a new ultrafast broadband network being built by Openreach.

Leeds is among 26 new locations across the UK to pilot the latest G.fast technology, as part of the national rollout of ultrafast to 12 million homes and businesses by 2020.

Download speeds of up to 330Mbps – about ten times the UK average – will be available to thousands of homes and businesses in the local area later this year. People using it will be able to download a two hour HD film in just 90 seconds, a 45 minute HD TV show in just 16 seconds, and a nine hour audio book in just three seconds.

This announcement brings the total number of UK premises able to take part in the early stages of Openreach’s rollout of G.fast technology to more than 500,000, with the rollout expected to reach a million premises by the end of the year.  Openreach aims to reach a total of 10 million premises with the technology by 2020.

So far, Openreach has made ultrafast broadband available to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country – using both G.fast and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services, which are both capable of delivering ultrafast speeds. More than 100,000 customers are already using these technologies.

Derek Richardson, Openreach’s programme director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This is great news for Leeds with several locations including Pudsey, Armley and Hunslet set to be the first areas to benefit. It’s a real coup for them to be at the forefront of the rollout of ultrafast broadband. Now we’ve identified this latest group of pilot locations, engineers will begin installing the new network. It will take a few months before people are able to use it.

“Developing the technology of the future is a key part of Openreach’s work. We’re the leading network provider in the UK and more than 26 million premises, using more than 580 service providers, depend on our network. More than nine out of ten homes and businesses already have access to superfast speeds. Faster speeds are more important than ever, and we’re sure our new ultrafast network will play an important part in the future success of the UK.”

BT’s research and development facility at Adastral Park, Suffolk, played a leading role in developing G.fast technology – which changes the way today’s broadband is transmitted. It allows ultrafast speeds, which previously required fibre optic cables to be run all the way to a property (FTTP), to be transmitted over existing copper lines and fibre broadband cabinets. This is significant as G.fast will enable Openreach to make ultrafast fibre available more quickly to a much larger number of homes and businesses than if it focused on FTTP alone.

Peter Bell, director for network solutions and operations for Openreach, said: “G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds for millions of people across the UK in the next few years. BT has a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications, from way back in the earliest days of the electric telegraph, right through to today’s global fibre networks.  We’re a world leader in fibre innovation and this is the next stage in our story.

“The UK is ahead of its major European neighbours when it comes to broadband and we’re doing everything we can to anticipate and meet changing customer demands. The development of G.fast technology is a key part of moving the UK from superfast to ultrafast broadband speeds as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Early trials of G.fast have taken place in Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and South Wales. A further 20 pilot schemes are already under way in different parts of the country, involving more than 100,000 homes and businesses. That figure will rise when these newly announced pilot locations are switched on.

It adds to the significant work already completed in Leeds, where Openreach has made fibre broadband, with speeds up to 80Mbps, available to around 300,000 premises through a combination of the company’s investment and the Superfast West Yorkshire & York partnership.

You can find out more about G.fast at www.openreach.co.uk/ultrafast

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