UK telecoms regulator Oftel has proposed new regulations to control the way BT supplies wholesale Internet access to independent operators.

Oftel's proposals mean BT has to offer payment terms for unmetered Internet access that are the same as those for metered access.

Presently, operators must pay BT in advance for unmetered capacity, while metered capacity is paid in arrears. Oftel also makes proposals regarding BT's obligation to increase network capacity to handle Internet traffic, and its ability to charge for the routing of Internet calls within its exchanges.

Oftel director general David Edmonds said: "Calls to the Internet now make up over 40 per cent of all traffic carried across the UK's telecoms networks.

"Over four million UK homes now use unmetered Internet access and Oftel must ensure that demand continues to be met."

Oftel has also published figures that show 45 per cent of UK households are connected to the Internet - a 50 per cent increase on this time last year.

Oftel is seeking industry opinion on its unmetered access proposals.