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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 09:18 GMT
'New goals' needed for broadband
Computer user
Work needed to show the benefits of using broadband
The UK Government has to plan for broadband's future and start setting new targets, says a key advisory group.

The Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG), said in its annual report that the UK is on target to give every community broadband access by 2005.

But the government needs to think about its visions for next generation broadband, and set its goals for 2010.

The government has promised to make the UK the most competitive broadband market among the G7 countries.

'More to do'

E-commerce minister Stephen Timms agreed that efforts to create a "broadband Britain" should not be relaxed.

"Excellent progress has been made in the last 12 months with a big increase in coverage, choice and take-up of broadband," he said.

"However, we agree with the BSG that there is more to do.

Creating, delivering and exploiting value
Building a thriving and competitive content industry
Encouraging investment in next generation broadband
Developing new broadband environments eg wireless
Bridging the digital divide
"The widespread adoption and use of broadband is key to further improving UK business productivity and competitiveness."

The chairman of the BSG, Keith Todd, added that all stakeholders, including public, private and the voluntary sector, still had a big job ahead to ensure broadband take-up in all areas of the country.

But he also stressed there was still work to be done in showing people who have broadband how it could benefit them.

Challenging times

The BSG identified several challenges which it said the government had to fit into its broadband policy.

These included cultivating the market for providing creative and useful content which makes use of broadband technology, and continued investment into new broadband technologies and infrastructure, like wireless technologies.

It was also concerned that barriers to getting broadband, like geography, economics and social inequalities, were broken down so that everyone could get the most out of high-speed net.

BT, the dominant player in providing the infrastructure which delivers broadband through fixed phone lines, welcomed the report and agreed with its concerns.

Alison Ritchie, chief BT broadband officer, said the challenge was to cultivate and maintain a properly regulated and competitive market place to encourage investment in infrastructure, particularly as it was such a fast-moving technology.

"People may focus on DSL and cable at the moment, but broadband is much more than these two services," she said.

"It will soon include 3G, satellite, wi-fi and other wireless services. This is a fast moving environment and it is vital that Ofcom acts with these future developments in mind."

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