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BT and Virgin Media have joined forces to talk up the quality of the UK's broadband infrastructure.

In a new advertisement to be printed this week in national newspapers, the two rivals will claim £15 billion has been invested in broadband technology over the last five years.

bt virgin media ad

The ads will also stress the point that Britain boasts faster average download speeds than France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

BT and Virgin Media have taken this unusual course of action in response to claims being made by Fix Britain's Internet - an industry coalition consisting of Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and the Federation of Communication Services.

The campaign group has urged internet users who are unhappy with the service they receive to air their views to sector regulator Ofcom in its consultation on proposed reforms to Openreach.

Ofcom has ordered BT to give more independence and investment powers to Openreach, with the broadband subsidiary being run as a distinct and legally separate company with its own board.

The watchdog believes its proposals will provide Openreach with the greatest possible degree of independence without separating the companies entirely, and lead to decisions being taken for the good of its customers and the wider telecoms industry.

Virgin Media is the only one of BT's rivals that does not depend on wholesale access to the Openreach network and is heavily investing in expanding its own network at the moment.

As a result, a full structural separation of Openreach from BT could have a significant impact on Virgin Media and its position in the market.

Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive of the company, commented: "To compete with BT, Virgin Media is a big investor in the UK’s internet infrastructure.

"Our ask is simple: public policy should change to more actively support this investment."

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive of BT, added that while both BT and Virgin Media are commercial rivals, they both have a "proud track record of investing billions of pounds into the UK's digital infrastructure".

Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: "It's important post-Brexit that we don’t talk the country down and that the right climate exists for further investment."

Virgin Media is currently spending £3 billion on its Project Lightning initiative, which will lead to 17 million homes and businesses in the UK having access to its ultrafast network by 2019.

According to Virgin Media's latest trading statement, the initiative is on course to reach more than 500,000 new UK premises this year, with 85,000 premises being added to its ultrafast network in Q2.

The upgrades mean households will receive broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps, which Virgin Media says is more than two-and-a-half times faster than the maximum speeds offered by Sky, TalkTalk and BT.

Businesses with ultrafast connections will benefit from speeds of up to 300Mbps. Virgin Media says this is nearly four times faster than the maximum speeds available from its competitors.

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