Two nondescript English towns are about to get the fastest internet speeds in Europe, after telecoms giant BT announced plans Friday to test broadband speeds of 500 megabits per second (Mbps) at two pilot locations this summer.
For perspective, the UK’s average broadband speed is around 29 Mbps, according to Net Index, an organisation that tracks these things. The city of Bolton has the fastest internet in the UK at 44.78 Mbps. The world’s average download speed is 22Mbps, while Singapore is the country with the fastest broadband speed at 104Mbps.
In a statement, BT said that around 4,000 homes and businesses in Huntington, Cambridgshire, and Gosforth, an area just north of Newcastle, will be the first to enjoy the internet upgrade, previously tested at the company’s research centre in Suffolk.
If all goes well, most of the UK will be able to receieve the new ultrafast service, called “G.fast,” within the decade, BT said.
According to BT, the new technology is capable of delivering “a range of speeds depending on how close the technology is to a customer’s premises.” This means not everyone will get the peak 500Mbps. The company expects to start off with 300Mbps or so, which it wants to install in millions of homes and businesses by 2020. Soon after, the speed will increase to its full capacity.
“We believe G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful. The UK is ahead of its major European neighbours when it comes to broadband and we need to stay ahead as customer demands evolve,” BT CEO Patterson said in a media release.
To easily calculate the time it takes to download a specific item based on the download speed, Media group Uswitch has produced the table below. So, for example, a connection speed of 100Mbps would allow you to download a single song in just 0.4 seconds.
BT is a leader when it comes to improving internet speeds. In early 2014, BT scientists created the fastest ever “real-world” commercial internet connection, The Independent reports. They used commercial-grade fibre optic lines and managed to put out speeds of 1.4 terabytes per second. The paper explains this would mean downloading the entire English version of Wikipedia would take just 0.0006 seconds. It’s also the equivalent of downloading 44 high-definition films in a single second.
Meanwhile, in the US, the city of Minneapolis looks like it’s soon going to soon grab the crown for the world’s fastest internet by delivering speeds of 10,000 megabits, or 10 gigabytes per second, CBS Minnesota reports.