BT has trumpeted the success of its broadband offerings with the announcement that over 15 million homes and small businesses are now connected to its network, although a significant digital divide still exists in the UK.
The firm said that the figures represent significant expansion over the past eight years, from just 200,000 connections in 2002 to 15 million today, equating to around 5,000 new customers every day.
BT said that when its numbers are combined with Virgin Media's it pushes the total number of UK premises on broadband to over 19 million, or 71 per cent of all households. This percentage places the UK ahead of France, Germany and the US.
Olivia Garfield, strategy director at BT, claimed that the figures underline BT's success in championing broadband, and reiterate the firm's commitment to further rollouts around the country.
"Broadband Britain has been a success story with widespread availability, low prices and high take up. People were sceptical when BT backed broadband in 2002, but the figures speak for themselves," she said.
She added that BT is now investing a further £2.5bn to roll out fibre broadband to two thirds of the UK, which will help it climb the league tables for broadband speeds.
BT's investment will be needed if the digital divide in the UK is to be closed. A recent Internet Access survey from the Office of National Statistics found that over nine million people have never used the internet.
The report noted that people more likely to have never used the internet include those over the age of 65, the widowed, those on low incomes and those with no formal qualifications.
Others have argued that the telco giant has had an unfair advantage in the market, given that it owns much of the UK's internet infrastructure. As recently as June, the European Commission said it should offer competing providers physical access to its underground ducts and overhead poles "as soon as possible " in order to deliver superfast broadband connections.
Meanwhile, small ISPs have complained that BT also benefits from the way fibre infrastructure is taxed in the UK, paying a flat fee according to income and revenue instead of according to distance and quantity of fibre.
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