AT&T Fiber

U.K. broadband is set to get a major upgrade thanks to national telecoms provider BT. The company today announced plans to deliver speeds of up 500Mbps to homes and businesses across the country, but we're going to have to wait a little while for it.

BT will use an innovative new technology called "" to deliver the ultrafast speeds, and it plans to begin pilot testing in two locations this summer. Around 4,000 customers in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle will get the opportunity to participate.

The tests will determine exactly what speeds can be achieved when using technology "at scale," BT says. If the pilot tests go well, deployment will begin in 2016/17. BT expects to be serving "millions" of customers broadband by 2020.

"We believe is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful," said BT CEO Gavin Patterson. "That upgrade will depend however on there continuing to be a stable regulatory environment that supports investment."

Patterson noted that the U.K. is ahead of its major European neighbors when it comes to broadband speeds, but insists there's a need to stay ahead as customer demands evolve. BT is also planning a 1Gbps "premium fiber" service, but there's no timeline for that just yet.

In the meantime, the company will continue to develop its existing fiber network to reach 95 percent coverage of the U.K. within the next few years.