Ofcom will not stand in the way of BT rolling out a fibre-optic network, with the communications watchdog ruling that it will allow a £1.5 billion investment that will give up to 20 million UK homes high-speed internet.

BT had stated that it would not proceed with its plans to boost the nation's fibre optic network if Ofcom opposed its idea, but the regulator said it will present 'no regulatory barriers'.

"Our message today is clear: there are no regulatory barriers in the way of investment in super-fast broadband," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.

"We want to promote investment but also ensure that there is fair and effective competition for the future.

"Super-fast broadband represents one of the most important developments in modern communications for many decades.

"It will deliver significant benefits to consumers and businesses with the prospect of new digital services delivered over the internet at high speed."

Virgin Media

The UK already has a high speed fibre-optic network run by Virgin Media, which has invested more than £13 billion to develop its infrastructure.

But BT's major investment in fibre-optic technology would help the nation take a step towards Lord Carter's aim to have the entire nation on a broadband connection.

The improvements would see the majority of the 20 million homes provided with fibre to cabinet – in other words speeding up the connection to the area rather than to the house – with only one million homes getting fibre to the home.

"Recent announcements of investment and planned investment, including Virgin Media's launch of a 50Mbps service, are very positive for consumers. Consumers will benefit even more from increased choice and wider availability," said Ofcom's statement.

TechRadar has contacted Virgin Media for its response.