BT has proposed to provide universal broadband across the UK by 2020 in an attempt to stave off further regulation.
The UK’s largest broadband provider made a voluntary commitment to offer 10MBps download and 1MBps upload speeds to 99 percent of premises by the end of 2020.
It proposed the plans as an alternative to a regulatory universal service obligation (USO) guaranteeing every home and business in the UK a minimum broadband speed of 10MBps on request, an option which the UK Government has just opened a consultation on implementing.
BT's plans, expected to require between £450 million and £600 million in investment, would use a mixture of technologies.
This would include completing a fixed network by December 2021 or December 2022 and introducing a fixed wireless service before this.
The British Government, which is set to weigh the two approaches, said BT’s proposal would provide potentially higher speeds more quickly.
If accepted, BT’s proposal will be legally binding.
UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “The government is taking action to ensure that people everywhere in the UK can get a decent broadband connection as soon as possible. We warmly welcome BT’s offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.
“Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers.”
BT CEO Gavin Patterson added: “This investment will reinforce the UK’s status as the leading digital economy in the G20.
“Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK."
BT’s infrastructure arm Openreach would provide the service and recoup the investment through charges for products providing access to its local access networks.
Ofcom and BT reached an agreement in March this year to legally separate Openreach from the overall Group.
In July, Openreach began to remove the BT name from its branding as part of its move towards being a legally separate entity from its parent.
The offer from BT follows the release of a report signed by a cross-party group of 57 UK MPs last week, which calls on the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom to introduce automatic compensation when minimum speeds are not reached.
According to BT, over 93 percent of premises can already access speeds of 24MBps or faster and the operator expects this figure to reach 95 percent by the end of 2017.