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BT to get back on broadband wagon

BT, the UK's largest network operator, is expected to reveal plans to extend its broadband service to two-thirds of UK homes when it announces its annual results this week.

A company spokesman said, "BT announces its full-year results on Thursday. Until then, stories like this are purely speculative. BT does not comment on speculation."

The move, reported by the Financial Times, comes after long and heated political debate over the passing of the Digital Economy Act in the dying days of the Labour government in which the UK was said to be as slipping behind competitor nations in speed and reach of broadband access.

BT CEO Ian Livingston had earlier stalled plans to convert BT's entire network to digital operation under the Internet Protocol, known as the 21st century network project, when it became obvious that the main beneficiaries would be BT's competitors in the local loop, the so-called last mile between exchange and subscriber.

Since then, BT has announced plans to provide consumer access to 24Mbps to 40% of the country, using fibre to the cabinet at a cost of £1.5bn. This project relies mostly on copper wires to reach consumer premises.

BT's capacity to install more fibre more quickly was hamstrung by losses totalling more than £1bn in its Global Services division, the company's main outsourced services provider. The FT said Jeff Kelly, who took over the unit in January, was expected to outline plans to improve its profitability.

BT announced today that it will double capacity in its hosted specialist low-latency network service for stock market traders in Singapore, which is run by StarHub, BT's telecom partner for access services in the country.

The expansion will accommodate more electronic trading applications, and provide capacity to cope with existing and anticipated new business in Singapore.


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