BSkyB and BT are both reported to be among those interested in bidding for the internet operations of AOL in the UK, the third largest broadband provider in the country, although they are unlikely to pay the billion pound asking price.

Increasing competition among providers of broadband services, which is rapidly becoming a commodity market, has led the Time Warner company to put its UK operations up for sale. Potential bidders have been asked to submit expressions of interest in the sale, which is being managed by Citigroup.

The main interest in AOL is in its existing customer base, which could be used to establish a market for broadband video services.

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB is planning to launch its own broadband service later in the summer, following its purchase of Easynet for £211 million.

BT, the telecommunications company that is currently the wholesale provider for most of the 1.3 million AOL broadband customers in the UK, has 2.6 million subscribers to its own retail broadband brand, and is planning to launch its BT Vision broadband video service in the autumn.

NTL is currently the second largest provider of broadband services in the UK, through its cable television platform.