BT wants 100 percent

LONDON (11/17/2003) - BT Group plc (BT) on Monday set trigger levels for a further 2,300 exchanges in a final push to bring high-speed broadband connections to 100 percent of the U.K. by 2005.

The telco has set itself a target of 90 percent coverage by the end of next year, pushing up its current 80 percent availability rate (a connection figure outstripping the number of houses linked to a gas main) to include a further two million homes and businesses.

"BT's registration scheme has been a world-leading success in focusing new investment where there is demand," said Ben Verwaayen, BT's chief executive. "When all these exchanges are enabled more than 99 percent of U.K. homes and businesses would be connected to the internet.

"There's no doubt that some of these trigger levels are very challenging to hit (and therefore) market stimulation alone will not be sufficient to deliver broadband. We are critically dependent on public partnerships to stimulate demand," he added.

Around 600 of the U.K.'s smallest exchanges are still waiting for trigger levels to be set, in these areas there are less than 300 customers. Trigger levels traditionally demand between 100 and 500 sign-ups before exchanges will be upgraded. Monday's announcement will see 32 exchanges immediately broadband-enabled.

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