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BT has warned that selling off Openreach would lead to less investment in broadband infrastructure across the UK.

Last month, a cross-party report by MPs stated that 5.7 million broadband customers currently have connections that fall short of Ofcom's acceptable minimum speed of 10Mbps. Some 3.5 million of these were said to live in rural areas.

The report therefore suggested that BT and its Openreach subsidiary be separated into two entirely independent companies, as this would end their "natural monopoly" over Britain's broadband infrastructure and lead to greater investment and innovation in the market.

A BT spokesman, however, believes that this would slow down efforts to boost connectivity around the UK.

"Ultimately, the UK would get far less investment if Openreach was a smaller, weaker independent company not part of BT," he commented.

Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, the spokesman stressed that BT has spent billions of pounds rolling out broadband in both urban and rural parts of Britain, with £20 billion being invested in its networks over the last decade.

He said the roll-out of this "exciting technology" takes hundreds of thousands of engineering man hours and includes the installation of thousands of miles of fibre optic cabling, as well as thousands of fibre broadband cabinets.

The official described this as a "huge engineering task", but pointed out that the government is happy the superfast broadband programme is on track and under budget.

Furthermore, the BT spokesman said Ofcom, the EU and other independent bodies have "repeatedly" named the UK as the top country in Europe when it comes to broadband and superfast broadband connectivity.

"Ninety per cent of UK premises can already get fibre broadband and that will soon climb to 95 per cent and above," he added.

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