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Telecoms giant BT has announced plans to further extend its copper-based ADSL2 broadband network.

The broadband provider is aiming to achieve 90 per cent coverage nationwide with the technology, which is capable of supporting up to 20Mb download speeds.

Between now and spring 2013, BT is aiming to make ADSL2 broadband available to an additional 2.5 million UK households and businesses.

So within two years, 22.5 million homes will have the option of signing up for a 20Mb broadband deal with the firm.

An estimated 800 local telephone exchanges will require upgrades in order to support the technology, with around half of these being located in rural areas.

Alex Pannell, Director of Product Management at BT Wholesale, said the firm was conducting a "significant expansion" of its rollout plan.

"[This] is further proof of our commitment to serve rural areas," he stated.

"The faster speeds will support the government's aim of enhancing broadband speeds for both town and countryside."

News of the extended ADSL network has been welcomed by the Country Land & Business Association, which continues to campaign for improved broadband services in rural areas.

William Worsley, President of the association, said the copper upgrade of exchanges will give economic power to people living and working in the countryside.

"However, we are still concerned that at least ten per cent of rural areas may never have access to fixed line broadband and this is where the government's promised funding for broadband should be targeted," he stated.

Mr Worsley said that providing universal broadband is "essential" if countryside-based firms are to be given the opportunity to compete fairly with their urban counterparts.

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