BT's plans to invest £1.5 billion in a fibre-optic infrastructure that will bring broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps to some ten million British homes by 2012 are already at risk.
According to chief executive Ian Livingstone, BT's shareholders are reluctant to make such an investment in today's economic climate. Speaking to The Guardian, he states:
"I have to tell you there are some shareholders who say 'you know something, don't do that, don't do a whole lot of other things. That leaves you with a lot more cash and cash today is worth a lot more than cash in a few years' time'."
The cost of BT digging up hundreds of British roads to lay fibre-optic cables was said to be funded by suspending its £2.5 billion share buy-back programme. However, it now appears that BT's shareholders are doing whatever they can to balance the books.
The telecoms giant announced plans last week to axe 10,000 jobs - a measure it said would result in savings of £250m. But is it all about saving money or is BT bullying Ofcom into providing more leeway?
When announcing its fibre-optic plans in July 2008, BT stated that the proposal remained dependant on Ofcom - who it hoped would relax restrictions and allow BT to ensure a valuable return on its investment.
Signalling the importance of Ofcom's role, Livingstone adds:
"We need to have the environment in which our shareholders feel there is a good chance of us making a return. If we cannot have that environment this is not the time to be taking on sure-fire losses."
We'd be willing to bet that super-fast broadband will remain on course for 2012 should Ofcom meet BT's demands.