BT to roll out 'super-fast' broadband

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The Independent Online

Telecoms provider BT today announced plans to roll out "super-fast" broadband to as many as 10 million homes by 2012.

The proposed £1.5 billion investment in fibre-based services will deliver top speeds of up to 100 Mb/s (megabits per second) with the potential for speeds of more than 1,000 Mb/s in the future.

BT described the move as a bold step but said the investment was dependent on a "supportive and enduring" regulatory environment. It also wants to work with local and regional bodies to decide where and when it should focus the deployment of super-fast broadband.

Chief executive Ian Livingston said: "Our aim is that urban and rural areas alike will benefit from our investment."

Fibre-based super-fast broadband will give customers enough speed to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications. BT said this meant that some members of a family could be watching different high definition movies whilst others were gaming or working on complex graphics or video projects.

It will also offer substantially improved upstream speeds, which allow customers to post videos or use high definition video conferencing.

BT will make the service available on an equivalent basis to all communication providers.

Mr Livingston added: "Broadband has boosted the UK economy and is now an essential part of our customers' lives. We now want to make a step-change in broadband provision which will offer faster speeds than ever before."

BT said it planned discussions with regulator Ofcom to determine the framework it believes is necessary to enable the programme to progress.

"These include removing current barriers to investment and making sure that anyone who chooses to invest in fibre can earn a fair rate of return for their shareholders," BT added.

Given the investment, BT will stop its share buyback programme, having returned in excess of £1.8 billion of the planned £2.5 billion in surplus cash to shareholders.