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The government's £830 million fund for improving high-speed broadband coverage should not simply be handed to BT, a rival firm has claimed.

Internet service provider (ISP) Virgin Media, which runs its own cable broadband network and is due to launch 100Mb web services next month, has called on the government to adopt an alternative approach to meeting its universal service commitment.

BT is currently investing £2.5 billion upgrading telephone exchanges around the UK to support next-generation broadband, and has asked for the public money to continue with this project.

The ISP believes it can deliver high-speed broadband to 90 per cent of the UK by 2017, including many of the rural areas currently lacking adequate internet services.

However, Virgin Media's Chief Financial Officer Eamonn O'Hare commented: "The devil will be in the detail of how the money is spent and exactly what services it delivers.

"The UK will be missing an opportunity if this subsidy is simply subsumed into extending BT’s fibre-to-the-cabinet rollout." 

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