BT's fibre broadband rollout remains ahead of schedule, with 15 million premises now passed across the UK, the broadband provider has revealed.
The nationwide, £2.5 billion commercial rollout of fibre broadband is currently around 18 months ahead of its original schedule, with Openreach engineers currently passing between 100,000 and 200,000 additional premises with fibre every week.
According to BT, it is on course to pass 19 million premises, or 66 per cent of the UK, by the end of spring 2014, while also working with local authorities to take fibre to areas outside the private sector's current and projected footprint.
The expansion of the fibre network means the UK is on course to have the best broadband network among major European economies by the end of 2015, according to the broadband provider, which notes that the country already has the second fastest speeds in the G8, after Japan.
So far, BT has signed 18 Broadband Delivery UK contracts, ranging from the south coast to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and hopes to sign more related deals in the months ahead.
Liv Garfield, Openreach Chief Executive, said that passing 15 million premises is a "significant milestone" that engineers can be proud of.
"They have worked through many months of appalling weather to bring the benefits of fibre to cities, towns and villages and this is making a genuine difference to how people live their lives," she said.
Ms Garfield said that fibre broadband can play an "important part" in stimulating and supporting an economic recovery, with investment in digital infrastructure helping to generate thousands of jobs and give small, rural businesses the speed to compete with companies in major metropolitan hubs.
"These speeds will help them to become more nimble and responsive and that in turn will help them to expand. We are already seeing this in areas, both urban and rural, where fibre is available," she added.
BT also revealed that it is exploring further innovations in the broadband and telecoms industry, including trialling TV white space technology in Suffolk and the Isle of Bute and testing 4G LTE spectrum with EE in Cornwall.