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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Broadband channel to boost net take-up
Surfer at computer
Content will be crucial if UK wants to compete on broadband
An independent broadband channel envisaged as an internet version of the Channel 4 television station should be set up if the UK is to gain and retain broadband users.

It is among recommendations in a government report to drive take-up of high-speed internet services.

The report acknowledges that faster speeds and lower prices will not in themselves be enough to secure a truly broadband Britain.

While lower prices have been vital in kick-starting broadband take-up to its current levels of around 600,000, compelling content will drive the next wave of broadband services according to the study, commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Huge investment

The report recommends a major government investment of between 5m and 10m to set up an independent organisation to bring together broadband content and applications.


There is a real risk that as mass market users adopt broadband they will find only a set of relatively niche offerings

DTI report
"The organisation would commission from the UK content development sector and work with internet service providers, portals, mobile platforms and TV companies to meet their content demands where appropriate," reads the report.

"In short, the Broadband Channel would represent a Channel 4 for the broadband age," it goes on.

Deserting broadband?

Without such a channel, the UK risked having an undeveloped content market, said the report.

It warned providers would just offer subscription niche services such as gaming, adult content, gambling and music from which they can make money.

"There is a real risk that as mass market users adopt broadband they will find only a set of relatively niche offerings," reads the report.

They may well choose not to remain broadband users."

Among other recommendations is the creation of a tourism portal with video and sound clips and interactive virtual visitor centres.

The report also suggests the government set up channels for transactional e-government services in each region, accessible in shopping centres, football grounds and railway stations.

The government has broadly welcomed the recommendations.

"For many, speed alone is not enough to justify upgrading to broadband," said e-Minister Stephen Timms.

"People need to be able to do more than play games and swap music files to convince them of the benefits of broadband," he said.

The findings come as figures from internet research group NetValue show that while uptake of broadband services in the UK has doubled in the past six months it still trails most of its European neighbours.

See also:

29 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
28 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
27 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
25 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
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