UK broadband reaches two-thirds of population

Two-thirds of the UK population can now get ADSL, according to BT, but many people in rural areas remain excluded

BT announced on Friday that it has expanded its ADSL network to cover two-thirds of the UK population. The telco, which has made considerable progress with broadband since the arrival of a new chairman and chief executive, hit this target by upgrading a further 100 exchanges to offer ADSL. This means that a total of 1,115 BT exchanges are now broadband-enabled. BT also said that customer demand for broadband is still very high, following recent price cuts and the unveiling of a self-installation ADSL product, and added that it is on track to reach its target of one million wholesale customers by the middle of next year. "I am delighted by the huge increase in demand for broadband. The results are excellent: installations of more than 11,000 a week, and a customer base for BT Wholesale of almost a quarter of a million connections," said Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, in a statement. "With results like this I'm confident we'll more than meet the targets we have set ourselves," Reynolds added. ISPs urging faster rollout
BT guaranteed last month to upgrade these 100 exchanges by the end of May. At the same time, it also said that it was considering upgrading a further 500 exchanges. Further details about these 500 exchanges are expected in June, but now that broadband prices are much lower BT is now getting stick from people who want a high-speed Internet connection but can't get one because their local exchange isn't upgraded. Several ISPs who resell BT Wholesale's ADSL products have been publicly urging the telco to roll out ADSL faster -- but BT's position is that it will only offer the technology in areas where it believes there are enough customers to make it financially viable. In the meantime, many rural communities are setting up broadband petitions and protest sites. BT would do well to develop a way of accurately measuring this demand.

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