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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
UK could lose out on faster broadband
Fibre optic cables
Lighting up the network with super-fast broadband
Britain could lose out in the crucial next stage for broadband if it fails to get its act together to build next-generation networks.


I'm not sure the UK government has a co-ordinated approach to applying for EU funding

Nigel Moutlon, Cisco
This is the view of networking firm Cisco, which supplies European countries with Ethernet and fibre connections that are 20 times faster that the current speed of broadband access.

While France has already obtained a grant from Europe to build Ethernet networks and the Irish Government is spending 185m on connecting its cities to super-fast broadband, the UK is still relying on ADSL and cable connections.

Director of marketing for Cisco Nigel Moulton believes this is due in part to lack of organisation in the UK.

"I'm not sure the UK Government has a co-ordinated approach to applying for EU funding," he said.

Utility partners

Such funding is vital in the current economic climate where venture capitalists are less likely to invest in the telecoms market and carriers are also more cautious.

The fibre that needs to be laid to carry the networks will also depend on building relationships with utility companies as an alternative to using the telephone networks of incumbents such as BT.

In Italy, internet service provider FastWeb is delivering high-speed access to apartment blocks in Milan. As well as offering customers 20 times the speed of current ADSL services, it also offers low cost internet telephony and video-on-demand for a monthly fee of around 13.

Cheap taste of broadband

David Hobday, marketing director of Telewest
Telewest: Hoping to unlock the broadband revolution
In the UK, recent price reductions have improved the take-up of ADSL services.

But this has yet to have an impact on the latest statistics compiled by telecoms watchdog Oftel.

Its figures show that nearly half of UK homes now have an internet connection but the majority are still relying on unmetered services with only 3% connected to broadband.

In an attempt to make its impact on the market, cable operator Telewest is offering consumers a cheap taster of broadband.

From 1 May anyone with dial-up access can sign up for a three month trial of its blueyonder broadband service for a cut-price 13.48.

If users do not want the service after the trial they can claim back the 50 installation fee. Otherwise the service will cost 29.99 per month or 25 if taken with Telewest's TV or phone service.

See also:

26 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
BT's broadband domination plan
24 Apr 02 | Business
BT launches direct access broadband
23 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Telewest offers super-fast broadband
19 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Broadband comes to the High Street
26 Feb 02 | Business
Understanding broadband
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