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BT says it is ready for an increased threat from Virgin Media in the UK broadband market.

Virgin Media is pressing ahead with major network rollout plans, as it looks to pass four million more UK properties through its Project Lightning initiative by 2020.

The cable operator wants to pass 17 million homes and businesses by the end of the decade, and significantly increase its potential customer base.

BT - as the UK's largest broadband provider - could face a new threat from Virgin Media in some areas, where super-fast cable services are not yet available.

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive Officer at BT, said his company is “prepared for the fight” over broadband and quad-play bundles, as Virgin Media embarks on Project Lightning.

He said BT is taking the threat of Virgin Media’s “ambitious plan” very seriously - particularly as the firm offers up to 152Mb download speeds.

However, Mr Patterson suggested that BT's rival will struggle to significantly increase its subscriber base.

He noted that Virgin Media's customer numbers have "not grown dramatically" since consolidation took place in the cable sector.

"In terms of the day-to-day competitiveness of what they offer today, I think they will find it a much harder market to go and win 40 per cent market share of than they had in the 1990s," Mr Patterson added.

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