BT has announced plans for higher minimum broadband speeds which it says will have a “major impact” on the future success and prosperity of Scotland.
Chief executive Gavin Patterson said the company is committed to helping deliver a new universal minimum broadband speed of five to 10 megabits per second (Mbps) for homes and businesses – enough for everyone in the UK to use popular internet services such as high-definition video.
The company also aims to tackle slow speeds in hard-to-reach parts of the country.
As well as the aim of a new minimum universal broadband speed, BT plans to start upgrading homes and smaller businesses with “superfast” speeds to “ultrafast” technology.
It said 10 million premises across the UK will receive ultrafast broadband with speeds of 300 to 500 Mbps by the end of 2020.
BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “These proposals will have a major impact on the future success and prosperity of Scotland.
“BT is already leading the way with more than 1.8 million households and businesses in Scotland having access to high-speed fibre broadband – and that number is growing by around 7,000 a week.
“Now we are preparing to push ahead with the ultrafast broadband revolution and ensure that even people in the most challenging locations can get broadband capable of delivering sophisticated services, such as high definition video.
“In an increasingly competitive world, this further major investment will be another vital boost for our region. Nobody is doing more than BT to ensure that Scotland has world-class broadband communications.”
The company has also pledged to improve customer service.
Mr Patterson said: “For the past five years, the UK has been the largest digital economy in the G20, by percentage of GDP. We think the UK has an even brighter future ahead if we make the right decisions today.
“We want to forge an ultrafast future for Britain and stand ready to help government deliver the broadband speeds necessary for every property to enjoy modern day internet services, such as high definition TV streaming and cloud computing. To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government.”
BT has come under attack from its rivals, which have said the ownership of the national telecoms network by BT Openreach has led to a “substandard experience” for consumers. Calls have been made for the competition watchdog, which has strong powers to shake up markets, to step in.
A spokesman for Sky said of today’s announcements: “What the British broadband market urgently needs is radical reform, not calculated manoeuvring and caveats to protect BT’s self-interest.
“Only a truly independent Openreach will unlock the investment, innovation and competition required to deliver the digital connectivity of the future.”
A TalkTalk spokesman said that for many, the plans announced by BT will come as “too little and too late”.