BT has accelerated its fibre broadband rollout, with the company now saying that two-thirds of the UK will be covered by spring 2014.
It's the second time that BT has claimed that it is speeding up its plans, which had an original end-target of late 2015. The communications provider projected plans would be complete by the end of 2014 in October last year. The new announcement means the rollout is running 18 months ahead of schedule.
Some 19 million homes and businesses will eventually be covered by super-fast broadband once BT reaches its target. The fibre currently passes 12 million premises, with just under one million already connected to the network.
"We plan to step up our efforts yet again to complete our commercial fibre rollout early as this will allow us to focus even further on the next exciting stage of our fibre broadband strategy," said BT chief executive Ian Livingston.
He added: "This will see BT working hand in hand with the public sector to extend fibre broadband to UK homes and businesses in the ‘final third' of the country that are harder to reach."
The government – predictably – welcomed the announcement. "Fibre technology is a major driver of economic growth and I am delighted to see BT make such good progress in helping to get the UK connected," said Secretary of State for Culture Maria Miller.
She added: "Connectivity is a key issue for people across the country whether in rural or urban areas and I now look forward to seeing rapid progress in the Government-backed projects to connect hard to reach areas."
The taxpayer is subsidising BT to help it take fibre broadband to rural areas that would otherwise be uneconomic to wire up. The company previously denied that it was inflating the cost of superfast broadband installation in more remote parts of the country.
Critics have nevertheless argued the government won't reach its national super-fast broadband objective by 2015.