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Ofcom says the level of competition in the UK broadband market has reached a new milestone.

According to the media regulator, the number of unbundled lines - where broadband providers offer services via BT’s network - has reached nine million.

Ofcom claims competition is also taking hold in the market for super-fast broadband, with deployment and investment expected to increase "rapidly" in the coming months.

Approximately 80 providers other than BT Retail are either trialling or offering fibre broadband - between them serving more than a quarter of a million customers.

Back in 2005, an agreement between Ofcom and BT saw the establishment of a new division - Openreach - to provide services to rival operators.

Alongside the requirement for BT to provide local loop unbundling, this has led to a "significant increase" in competition for broadband delivered via copper networks.

The nine million-line milestone achieved in April 2013 represents a 70-fold increase since 2005, when there were just 123,000 unbundled lines in the UK.

Ofcom says this increased competition means lower bills for broadband subscribers,

At the end of 2005, UK consumers were paying on average £23.60 per month for a broadband service delivered over a copper phone line - but the same service now costs £13.11 per month.

The regulatory framework outlined by Ofcom is designed to ensure there is also fair competition in the UK market for super-fast broadband.

Three years ago, the regulator introduced new requirements on BT to make its physical infrastructure available to firms wishing to lay parallel fibre networks.

Ofcom also requires BT to offer a ‘virtual’ form of unbundling, enabling competitors to offer super-fast broadband over its fibre network should they so wish.

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