On Tuesday, BT Group laid out plans to invest U.S. $3 billion in a high-speed fiber broadband network that would deliver speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second to as many as 10 million British homes by 2012. BT’s proposal would boost significantly the speed, quality, and availability of broadband services throughout the United Kingdom (UK), which has lagged behind nations such as France and South Korea in broadband deployment. While attempting to gain a competitive edge against broadband rivals that include Orange, British Sky Broadcasting and Carphone Warehouse PLC, BT would join Virgin Media (VM) as the only other carrier to roll out fiber-based Internet services throughout the U.K. (VM’s planned fiber optic service would bring speeds of 50 megabytes per second to 12 million U.K. households by mid-2009.) Sources say that BT’s planned network represents the U.K.’s largest investment to date in fiber broadband services that would connect directly to customer premises or via street corner fiber distribution cabinets that are linked to homes through copper wire. BT also said it would offer its competitors wholesale access to its fiber network facilities and would encourage other high-speed network operators to do the same. Stressing that the new network will be designed to “give customers enough speed to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications,” BT CEO Ian Livingston said, “we now want to make a step-change in broadband provision which will offer faster speeds than ever before.”