BT will launch trials of superfast broadband technology six times the speed of the fastest of today’s services, aiming for a 2016 nationwide rollout.
Dubbed G.fast, the technology will be tested this summer in selected areas in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, involving about 4,000 homes and businesses.
Allowing data transmission of 500Mbps, the technology will enable streaming of ultra-high-definition 4K TV and improve accessibility of other content including regular HD video and audio.
"BT is a world leader when it comes to fibre innovation and we are excited about the next stage in our story,” said BT’s chief executive Gavin Patterson.
"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 average broadband speed in the UK is currently around 20Mbps. The best available services offer a maximum of 80Mbps with the majority of customers opting for a better priced 40Mbps option.
BT said tests showed G.fast could deliver a range of speeds depending on how close it was to a customer's premises. Outlining its plans, the firm said it would aim for initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to be available to millions of homes and businesses by 2020, with a subsequent increase to up to 500Mbps, following development of new industry standards.
BT tested the technology in its research centre in Suffolk and found G.fast could be delivered through the existing 90,000 street cabinets, allowing for a faster roll-out.
It was previously thought that the only way to deploy the technology would be through four million telegraph poles across the UK but BT said street cabinets would allow a more convenient solution as they are closer to the customers.
"BT is likely to deploy G.fast from various points in the network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various roll-out options," the firm said.
"It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps."
BT is already expanding its fibre network across the UK which now covers almost 22 million premises, around three-quarters of the country. This can be used by other Internet providers as well as BT.
The company said the UK was already ahead of Germany, France, Italy and Spain for superfast broadband coverage and take-up, and that its latest plans would ensure it stays ahead of world leaders such as Japan and South Korea.