BT lays out broadband expansion plan as it fends of demands for break up

TalkTalk boss Dido Harding on Tuesday accused BT chief executive Gavin Patterson of ''grandstanding'' with a series of pledges to improve broadband service launched yesterday.

Patterson had said BT wanted to ''forge an ultrafast future for Britain and stand ready to help government deliver the broadband speeds necessary for every property to enjoy modern day internet services''.

''To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government,'' he added.

BT had been earlier ticked off for its ownership of Openreach, the UK's telecoms infrastructure network with telecom regulator Ofcom revealing in July that it was conducting a review of the situation.

The watchdog confirmed that it was considering separation of BT from its Openreach network as the move ''could deliver competition or wider benefits for end users''.

The deadline for responses to Ofcom's consultation on the matter was 8 October, and Harding told City AM yesterday that this was most likely the reason behind BT's announcement yesterday, ''The last thing BT wants is for Openreach to be spun off – it's a hugely profitable part of the group.''

BT's ambitious plans to deliver ultra-fast broadband to 10 million homes by 2020 – five years ahead of the planned date seemed like a ploy to protect its Openreach interests.

The FTSE 100 giant spelt out its vision for the future at a conference, as it kept away threats for splitting up the group up by spinning off its network operator Openreach.

According to BT's chief executive, Gavin Patterson, the new target for ultra-fast broadband could be achieved within the existing capital expenditure budget of £2.3 billion a year.

According to BT's rivals, Openreach was failing consumers with poor service, and BT had an in-built advantage as it owned the only company currently allowed to connect homes to the fibre broadband network.

A Sky spokesman said BT was protecting its ''self-interest''.

He said, ''For years, BT has been under-investing and delivering poor-quality service for customers. Only a truly independent Openreach will unlock the investment, innovation and competition required to deliver the digital connectivity of the future.''

However, hitting back at detractors who accuse BT of under-investing in the network and inhibiting the country's digital expansion, Patterson said the existing industry structure had worked, making the UK one of the most developed internet economies.