BT's £1.5bn roll-out of "superfast" broadband will soon allow businesses to buy network capacity on-demand for as little as 24 hours at a time.
The news emerged this morning as BT gave details of its broadband roll-out plan which will see about 10 million homes gaining access to 2Mbps network connections by 2012, and another five million homes by 2017.
The project will allow firms that buy wholesale bandwidth from BT to buy it in 10Gbps "lumps" to resell it in smaller chunks for shorter periods.
"The aspiration is to allow (retail) customers to dial-up bandwidth on demand," said a spokesman.
Olivia Garfield, BT's strategy chief, said BT was still trying to clarify whether the government 2Mbps universal service commitment (USC) was for "up to two meg or guaranteed two meg".
This affected the speed of BT's roll-out, she said, but in any case the initial investments were likely to be "in-filling" urban areas that now did not have access to fibre-based links to the street distribution cabinet
BT's wholesale division and third party network operators such as Colt would have access to as much bandwidth as they wanted BT said.
In BT's case, its Global Services and Retail divisions would use it to offer cloud computing services under the Virtual Data Centre brand, which was announced last week.
The divisions would provide application services and data storage to enterprise and SME customers, allowing them to buy processing and storage capacity for periods of 24 hours and longer.
BT has 614 Ethernet nodes or exchanges that covered most urban areas, a BT spokesman said. The planned roll-out would reduce distances to the nearst node. This would cut users' costs because prices were based on the distance from the node to the customer's premisis, he said.