Broadband will be as widely available as analogue TV by the middle of next year, claims BT.

BT Wholesale spokesman Francis King: "Who do you know who can't get the four main analogue TV channels with decent reception? That's the level of coverage we'll have."

BT has struggled to extend the reach of broadband to certain areas of the country because until now 512Kbps ADSL connections would not work over a line longer than 6km. This meant that anyone who lived further away from the local exchange could not get broadband.

The company has now extended the reach of its ADSL products beyond the 512Kbps limit, and says it is confident that 99.4 per cent of the UK population will be able to get broadband by next summer.

In addition, 1Mbps ADSL now works over 6km – compared to a previous limit of 4km – extending the reach of higher bandwidth services.

The 0.6 per cent of people to whom BT is not promising standard broadband coverage either have an inadequate telephone line and internal wiring, or are located in areas where the telephone exchange has not been updated to support ADSL.