BT has pledged to provide one million homes with super-fast broadband over the next year.
The telecoms provider is opening up 66 fibre-optic exchanges across the country to reach more rural areas. The majority of exchanges will be put in place during 2012 but some will be introduced by the end of this year.
The four-year plan
BT's announcement comes as part of its £2.5 billion long-term plan to make speedy broadband available to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2015.
The company is also set to pass a "significant milestone" at the end of this month, bringing faster broadband speeds to more than five million homes, says Liv Garfield, chief executive officer of Openreach, BT's broadband subsidiary. She adds: "We are well on our way to passing 10 million in 2012 and two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015."
She does concede though that the remaining 10% of the UK "is going to be the hardest to reach."
Jon Ingram, product director at homephonechoices.co.uk, sees BT's news as "another positive step" but says the onus is now on other broadband providers to use the same technology and therefore increase customer choice.
"Consumers wanting true super-fast services currently only have a choice between BT and Virgin Media – subject to each provider's specific coverage," he adds.
The UK government has allocated £530 million towards broadband development and internet service providers will have to compete for funds.
Ingram says: "Today's news is positive since it means that footprint is getting bigger. If Fujitsu [Japanese company that provides broadband services for Virgin Media and Talk Talk] can sort its funding requirements for its own fibre network then as we move into 2012 we may really see a broader range of coverage – and choice – for those wanting high speed broadband."