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Expert says BT has 'missed an opportunity in rural areas'

British residents in rural areas are increasingly turning away from BT because they are disappointed by their service, according to an industry expert.

Independent telecoms analyst Ian Grant has claimed that the telecoms giant - which owns the infrastructure provider Openreach, which owns most of the telephone wires, exchanges and ducts in the UK - has missed an opportunity in rural areas, where customers are now starting to look towards alternative internet providers.

He told the BBC: "Every single county council in the country gave their fibre contracts to BT, and BT has not rolled out fibre to the rural communities - hardly at all.

"They've put fibre to the street cabinets, but many people in rural communities live too far away from the cabinets to be able to access high speed broadband."

Virgin Media, one of BT's main rivals, has recently brought fibre broadband to rural communities in Hampshire.

However, the expert doubts whether the firm will do this right across the country.

He explained: "It's much cheaper to service a bunch of people in a block of flats in an urban area, than it is to service a shepherd on a Cumbrian hillside.

"In order to build a network, you want to build to adjacent areas. Virgin would rather stay close to the cities in the south, so adding a link to a nearby area is affordable, but if you have to go to a far-off area, it's very expensive."