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Ofcom will clear the way for BT to secure a return on its investment after a £1.5 billion fibre-optic cable broadband network is built in the UK, Ed Richards has suggested.

Last year BT unveiled plans for a next-generation super-fast broadband network to reach ten million homes by the year 2012.

Now Ofcom chief Richards has assured BT that the plan will not be bogged down by a "regulatory framework" but supported by it.

Mr Richards told the Financial Times: "Regulation will not be a barrier to this kind of investment.

"I am confident we will lay out a regulatory framework which will clearly enable companies to be free to make a return which justifies the investment they are making."

Recent research from the Fibre to the Home (FttH) Council of Europe has found that Japan is currently the world leader in FttH market penetration.

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