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Virgin Media to use BT's fibre network

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Virgin Media has reportedly confirmed plans to expand its super-fast broadband network in the UK by using the infrastructure owned by BT.

The cable operator, currently the UK's third largest broadband provider, wants to run aerial deployment projects of high-speed broadband by laying fibre optic cables over BT's telegraph poles.

In July, Virgin Media launched a trial of ultra-fast broadband delivery over existing electricity poles in the Welsh village of Crumlin, Caerphilly.

By using the approach, the company hopes to expand its network coverage to reach as many as 16 million of the UK's 26m homes.

Yesterday, Ofcom ordered BT to allow rival operators to use its underground ducts and telegraph poles for providing super-fast broadband in the UK.

The approach is designed to help reduce the cost of rolling out broadband networks by not requiring companies to dig up the roads to lay cables.

Ofcom hopes that providers such as Virgin Media will use BT's infrastructure to bring broadband services to areas that the telecoms giant does not plan to serve.

Virgin Media has consistently called for BT to open up access to its poles and ducts for aerial deployment projects, which it views as the most cost-effective way to reach remote areas.

Speaking to The Financial Times, Virgin Media said: "This is an important step that rightly focuses on opening up areas of the country not already served by super-fast broadband, removing one of the hurdles that make such developments near impossible at present."

Virgin Media's high-speed fibre-optic network currently covers 12.7m homes, while the firm expects to reach a further 400,000 households by the end of 2012.

TalkTalk has also signed up to provide services over BT's fibre network, but the company is thought to lack sufficient resources to run its own major network rollout projects.

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