BT is to extend ADSL broadband Internet services to 90 per cent of UK households by the end of the third quarter.

The company also plans to cut fees for the service by up to 52 per cent, it said yesterday. Around 67 per cent of UK homes and small businesses are within reach of BT's broadband service today, although only 800,000 subscribe to it, the company said.

New software has allowed changes to the way fibre is deployed between exchanges, and thereby cutting costs, Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT's Wholesale division said yesterday.

This will allow 600 exchanges, which currently have no "trigger" levels, to have realistic levels set, Reynolds said. Trigger levels represent the level of customer demand needed at an exchange to make broadband deployment economically viable to BT.

Trigger levels on other exchanges are not being changed, BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen said. However, they may be changed if the UK government boosts broadband use by connecting schools, National Health Service establishments and police.

"Our plea to government is for it to get its weight behind broadband," Verwaayen said.

Wholesale charges to ISPs are being cut, from £14.75 per domestic line per month to £13.00, and by over 50 per cent for small businesses, BT said.

There will also be a volume-discount scheme, with increasing line-rental discounts at 15,000, 50,000 and 100,000 customers, Verwaayen said. ISPs who provide 15,000 customers over a 12 month period will receive a 1 per cent discount, a BT spokesman said. For 50,000 customers the discount will be 1.5 per cent, and for 100,000 customers, 2 percent, the spokesman said.

Connection charges are not changing, Verwaayen said.

BT Retail has not announced whether it will cut its consumer charges based on the new wholesale prices, Verwaayen said: "Like every provider they have to decide what it means for them and I expect you'll hear from them in the next few weeks," he said.