December 21, 2009 / 1:22 PM / 9 years ago

BT to speed up new broadband roll out

The British Telecom Tower is seen in central London May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - British telecom carrier BT will accelerate the roll out of its superfast broadband network to connect 10 million homes to its fibre service in time for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, it said on Monday.

BT, spending 1.5 billion pounds on its plan to cover 40 percent of Britain, is rolling out superfast services as it expects growing demand for faster bandwidth in the future and as it fights to keep up with cable operator Virgin Media.

Virgin Media already supplies the fastest residential services in Britain.

“Given the progress we’re making, four million homes will have access to fibre by the end of next year,” Chief Executive Ian Livingston said in a statement.

“2012 will be an important year for the UK given the Olympics and so I’m keen we provide 10 million homes with access to fibre by the time the games begin.”

The fibre network, which will increase download speeds 10-fold, was originally due to be finished by March 2013. When it is launched it will mostly be available in towns and cities.

Livingston also called for clarity over future government subsidies for the broadband network infrastructure.

“If you look around the world, several governments are proactively supporting the roll out of fibre broadband,” he said. “There’s still a debate in the UK — which is fine — but we need our politicians to decide how much of a priority fibre broadband is.

“BT is the only company currently planning to invest large sums in this area but we can only go so far with our shareholder’s money.”

Reporting by William James and Kate Holton; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Rupert Winchester

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