America Online (AOL) is rolling out its broadband Internet access service across NTL Group's cable network, in a move aimed at significantly expanding its broadband reach in the UK.

With the deal, 7.2 million households in the UK can now access AOL broadband on cable, AOL announced yesterday.

AOL said that it is the only broadband service provider to offer high-speed access from both a national telephone company, BT, and via NTL's cable network. The ISP (Internet service provider) already had a contract with NTL to offer its dial-up service over the company's network, but it is now hoping that those customers upgrade to broadband.

"We're confident we can pick up a large number of subscribers who didn't have access to broadband service from BT and didn't think they could get it from NTL," said AOL UK spokesman Jonathan Lambeth.

AOL has been dissatisfied with the slow rollout of BT's network upgrades, Lambeth said - saying that consumer take-up of broadband would benefit from greater availability.

"It would be better if they were proactive, rather than 'if they want it, we will build it'," Lambeth said, "but we don't own a network so we can only apply pressure."

While BT's network buildout hasn't been speedy enough for AOL, the telecom company has recently lowered the "trigger levels," or number of registrations, it needs to receive before it upgrades an exchange, thanks to new technologies that make the upgrades cheaper.