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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
UK lags behind on broadband
Cable imposed on map of world
UK doing poorly in world's broadband league table
The UK is still one of the worst places for broadband in the world, despite falling prices for high-speed internet access.

A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) puts the UK at number 22 out of the 30 richest nations for broadband take-up.

The UK has not moved position since the last OECD study in October, says the report leaked to the technology news weekly Computing.

It could prove embarrassing for the government, which has pledged to make the UK the best place in the Western world for broadband services by 2005.

'Rapid growth'

A spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry said they would not comment on the report until its official publication later this year, but added that the true picture might not be represented.

"The UK is experiencing rapid growth and there has been a 50% increase in broadband connections since the beginning of the year," she said.

"It is growing faster than a lot of its competitors and has some of the cheapest internet prices in the world."

Much of this growth is driven by price cuts from telecoms giant BT.

But according to the latest report from the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), the UK is still lagging behind its European neighbours, coming in sixth out of 15 for DSL connections.

When the number of connections per population is taken into account. the UK falls to 12th place.

Lack of competition

DSL is the dominant technology for broadband, offering high speed net access via existing telephone lines.


ECTA's concern is the growing dominance of incumbent telephone operators in this crucial new market

Phil Evins, ECTA
The figures do not take account of cable connections which could change the ranking of the UK, pointed out a spokesperson for ECTA.

He also added a caveat to the OECD figures.

"The UK wouldn't need to add a lot of lines to shoot up the table and these figures were compiled before the BT price cuts," he said.

However, ECTA is worried by the lack of competition in the European DSL market, which is still monopolised by a handful of powerful telecoms firms.

Of the total 5.3 million DSL connections in Europe, only 10% are offered by competitors.

"ECTA's concern is the growing dominance of incumbent telephone operators in this crucial new market," Managing Director of ECTA Phil Evins said in a statement.

In a week of surveys scrutinising the impact of broadband, the European Commission has also produced a report looking at how member states are faring in creating a competitive market for high-speed internet services.

The report, eEurope 2005, stresses the vital need for competition in order to provide a rich array of affordable services.

It urges governments to provide financial incentives for the switch to broadband, particularly in remote areas.


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