For over 170 years BT has been a technological pioneer, creating world-changing technologies.

From the fibre-optic broadband that comes into your home, to ground-breaking services like BT Call Protect that keep your homes free from nuisance calls, BT is continually innovating to bring you the best products and services.

Here are some of the ground-breaking achievements of BT and its forerunners:

  • 1926: Conducted the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic
  • 1943: Built the world’s first electronic programmable computer
  • 1968: Opened the world’s first digital telephone exchange
  • 1981: Laid the first single-mode fibre cable
  • 1984: Developed the first commercial single mode optical fibre link
  • 2014: Demonstration of 3Tbps speeds over 370km

BT is the UK’s third largest investor in research and development in the last 10 years and the second-largest investor in R&D in the fixed line telecoms sector during the same period - spending £2.6 billion over five years.

As more people use video services like Ultra HD/4K for TV, movies and gaming (which takes up more bandwidth than High Definition and Standard Definition), bandwidth requirements are increasing at around 40% a year. In addition our homes are becoming more connected, with internet-connected devices like kettles, heating, security cameras and lights.

By investing in R&D, BT will be able to meet those demands, creating new technologies to connect people and keep the UK at the forefront of technical progress.

Adastral Park in Ipswich is BT’s Global Research and Development centre. Home to over 4,000 scientists, engineers, researchers and technology partners, for the over 40 years it’s been the centre of ground-breaking research that has changed modern communications.

100Gbps broadband

Adastral Park hosted the first live demonstration of 100 Gbps ‘hyperfast’ broadband by Openreach and Huawei in June 2017, using a standard residential FTTP (Fibre-To-The-Premises) connection and advanced transmission technology.

100Gbps means faster speeds for businesses and consumers – boosting the broadband signal so it has enough capacity to stream 4,000 UHD movies at once.

The demonstration showed that if existing fibre can support greater capacity, existing FTTP networks will be able to support increased demand in the future.

Terabit Superchannel

BT Labs has developed a ‘Superchannel’ capable of releasing more capacity.

Working with Huawei, the team developed a technique where multiple 400Gbps wavelengths of light were combined into a single fibre.

The successful trial proves it’s possible to release more capacity from existing fibre-optic infrastructures by boosting the amount of light boosted over single strand of glass.

The testing took place using a fibre-optic loop between Adastral Park and BT’s Bishop Stortford Exchange.

BT’s researchers aren’t stopping there, expecting to reach speeds of 13Tbps – the equivalent of downloading 500 HD films per second.

At the moment, there isn’t demand for multi-terabit speeds according to Professor Tim Whitely, BT’s MD of Research & Innovation said: “We want to stay ahead of the game and ensure the core network is ready to support the performance that our customers might demand in the future.”