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BT has superfast internet ambition

18 июня 2009

BT is to examine expanding its superfast broadband network to cover 90 per cent of homes after ministers published plans to subsidise the roll-out of high-speed internet access across the country, its chief executive said Wednesday.

Ian Livingston told the Financial Times the government’s planned broadband tax meant BT could investigate going far beyond its existing commitment to provide a superfast fixed-line network for 40 per cent of households by 2012.

Some industry analysts said the government’s Digital Britain white paper, published on Tuesday, could be a turning point for BT, which plunged to a pre-tax loss of £134m for 2008-09 as a result of severe problems at its division serving multinationals.

The white paper said the government would introduce a £6 per year levy on millions of households and businesses with copper phone lines to help finance superfast networks in rural areas. Ministers set a target for at least 90 per cent of homes and businesses to be within reach of high-speed lines by 2017.

Mr Livingston said: “We’re keen to get fibre to as many homes as possible – and so the levy is a positive step towards increasing availability. The devil will be in the detail, but, if the plans are workable, then it could be feasible that we [would] deliver somewhere in the region of 90 per cent coverage.”

By expanding its superfast network based on optical fibre to run past 90 per cent of households, BT could strengthen its position as the UK’s leading provider of internet access to consumers and small businesses.

It might also enable BT to strike lucrative wholesale deals with other broadband providers such as British Sky Broadcasting and Carphone Warehouse that are unlikely to build their own fibre-based networks.

BT and Virgin Media are already planning superfast broadband networks that may cover 50 to 60 per cent of homes, mainly in towns and cities.

The government hopes the 50p a month levy will bring high-speed internet access to the one- third of the population living in mainly rural areas, where it is much more expensive to provide.

BT’s existing plans to roll out its fibre-based network to 40 per cent of homes by 2012 will cost it £1.5bn.

Analysts at UBS said it could cost another £3bn for BT to roll out to 90 per cent of homes, but they also estimated that the 50p levy could contribute up to £1.4bn. BT’s shares closed on Wednesday up 3 per cent at 105.6p.


Источник: Financial Times

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