Swiss beat UK's BT to next-gen broadband

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Switzerland is the first country in Europe to deliver so-called ultrafast broadband to customers through traditional copper infrastructure, according to service provider Swisscom.

It said 1,000 customers were now using a connection, which can reach speeds of 500Mbps. lets copper cables carry data at faster speeds than before.

In the UK, BT's Openreach has been trialling technology, but customers can not yet buy packages.

Openreach has been installing the fibre optic cables that facilitate superfast broadband across the UK, but has so far focused on connecting street cabinets rather than homes.


For most broadband customers, the internet is still piped from the exchange into homes via the copper network.

That means people who live closer to the street cabinet enjoy faster internet speeds.

This set-up is known as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) - as opposed to the faster fibre to premises (FTTP). is designed to speed up the internet by transmitting data at a higher frequency than existing broadband.

It can also bring fibre distribution points closer to homes than the street cabinets, for example, with installations on telegraph poles or in manholes.

Openreach told the BBC that the UK's first connections would be enabled in November for a small number of homes.

It said 140,000 homes and businesses would be capable of connecting by March 2017 and 10 million by the end of 2020.

However, it will be down to internet service providers to advertise and sell ultrafast connections.

Research by news site suggests more than 91% of UK homes and businesses already have access to a "superfast" connection - with speeds greater than 30Mbps - while more than 50% have access to an "ultrafast" (over 100Mbps) connection.

Ideally suited

While Openreach is rolling out to its street cabinets, a continuation of its FTTC approach, Swisscom said it was hoping to install distribution points within 200m of homes.

"The layout of the existing Swisscom network makes it a little easier to launch. With existing manholes in streets, which are ideally suited for the deployment of these weather-proof units, roll-out should be swift," said's Andrew Ferguson.

Swisscom said its service had launched after four years of development with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

"We believe Swisscom are the first to announce a full retail package," said Mr Ferguson.

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