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Super-fast broadband coming quicker
Telecoms giant BT said it will be able to provide super-fast broadband for two-thirds of the UK a year earlier than it previously predicted.
BT will bring forward £300 million of planned investment and take on an additional 520 new engineers, which it hopes to recruit largely from ex-armed forces personnel, to achieve its target in 2014 instead of 2015.
The accelerated roll-out forms part of BT's £2.5 billion programme to provide quicker broadband services across the UK.
Six million UK premises already have access to the new super-fast technology, a figure that will rise to 10 million in 2012.
The new fibre-optic cables support download speeds of up to 40 megabytes per second, which is easily fast enough to allow users to watch high definition television over the internet. They are substantially quicker than receiving the internet through BT's traditional copper phone lines.
The firm said its programme is the largest single commercial investment ever undertaken in the UK and one of the biggest civil engineering projects currently in operation.
Ian Livingstone, BT chief executive, added:" Our roll-out of fibre broadband is one of the fastest in the world and so it is great to be ahead of what was an already challenging schedule."
The company is also to apply for up to £530 million worth of grants from the Government to take the new technology into rural and harder to access areas.
BT said that if it received all of the contracts and grants available from the Government it would have to invest a further £1 billion as well, but that would mean 90% of the country being able to receive superfast broadband.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said: "Superfast broadband is essential for achieving sustainable growth and it is vital that homes and businesses have access to it as soon as possible."