Virgin Media has said it has the capabilities to offer broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps as early as next year, overshadowing BT's rival fibre network set to complete in 2012.

"We have an opportunity with our network to provide significantly higher speeds", said Virgin Media's chief executive Neil Berkett.

Virgin currently already offers a top speed of 50Mbps, with BT's forthcoming fibre network pushing 40 to 60Mb.

While BT has said this faster fibre network will begin hitting UK homes next year, Mr Berkett has said its roll out of higher speeds would be a "function of timing".

"When we look at the market I don't see us getting the returns right now for 100 or 150Mbps", he said.

"As we work with application providers, and content providers... there will be a natural point where we upgrade from 10, 20 and 50Mbps to something more".

"If BT were to meet the time frame they have suggested - of finishing by 2012 - I would see us as having much, much faster upstream speed, running at a minimum of 100Mbps downstream and possibly more. You can see a real opportunity there".

Mr Berkett went on to say he wouldn't be surprised to see Virgin Media start the introduction of faster speeds in 2010, with a theoretical limit of 200Mbps downstream speeds.