BT has promised that, if the demand is there, then every UK home will have access to high-speed Internet services by 2005.

BT's chief executive Ben Verwaayen said: "We have clear momentum, and this – together with our latest understanding of technology and costs and the growing enthusiasm for regional partnerships – means we can take a new approach to broadband investment."

Oftel's director general of telecommunications David Edmonds welcomed the announcement. He said: "BT's announcement to set broadband trigger levels for a further 2,300 local exchanges is excellent news.

"It is good news for small businesses wishing to maximize the benefits of trading on the Internet and for consumers wanting ever faster access with more advanced services."

Edmonds noted that delivering the final few per cent "will still require considerable effort from all those involved", adding that the regulator's role is to "ensure that the UK has a broadband market which is not only geographically comprehensive but competitive."

Tony Blair, delivering a speech at the CBI conference, also mentioned BT's pledge. Blair said: "I welcome Ben Verwaayen's announcement that BT is eager to work with us and local communities to broaden access. I share with him the vision of achieving 100 per cent national coverage by 2005."