Sky boasts it's beating NTL

Broadcaster claims it can reach more UK homes
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The Independent Online

BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster, has fired another salvo in the battle for control of the home entertainment market with the claim that it can now offer broadband internet services to more households in the UK than NTL, its arch rival.

James Murdoch, the chief executive of BSkyB, told The Independent on Sunday that Sky can now offer broadband to 50 per cent of all UK homes (about 12 million) and to 80 per cent of addresses that can be connected to NTL's cable network.

He said: "The nation is waking up to the fact that broadband customers have been paying too much for too little. We're making strong progress in building out our network and we're increasingly well placed to bring the benefits of Sky Broadband to millions of customers."

Over a quarter of NTL's customers have deserted the company in the past 12 months, according to the group's latest set of financial results. In total, NTL lost 256,000 customers and signed up only 78,000 new subscribers.

Mr Murdoch added that Sky had signed up one million broadband customers in the 100 days since it launched its high-speed internet service.

Sky has invested heavily in putting its own technology in BT's local exchanges - a process known as "local loop unbundling", which enables the company to offer a wide range of internet services.

As of 21 December, Sky had unbundled 738 local exchanges, up from 540 on 31 October. When the company launched its broadband service in July, it had unbundled 373 exchanges.

The company hopes to extend its network to cover 70 per cent of British households by December 2007.