September 19, 2015
The minister for competitiveness, Stephen Timms, is calling for measures to accelerate the roll-out of next-generation broadband, to ensure the UK does not fall behind other countries in e-commerce and access to public services.
Timms will announce plans for a high-level summit on the potential need for public sector intervention in broadband deployment. The minister will outline his plans in a speech to a conference organised by The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), a government broadband advisory body.
The proposed summit would consider whether public sector intervention is necessary and the form that this might take.
While other countries are investing in new, fibre-based broadband infrastructure, the UK is lagging behind. Fibre-based technology is capable of considerably higher bandwidth than the UK’s largely copper-based system.
Fibre is capable of delivering broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps, while copper-based technology is limited by ADSL, providing speeds of just 24 megabits under good conditions. Upgrading the whole of the UK to a fibre-based network could cost up to £15bn.
The BSG believes the deployment of fibre technology is being hampered by the high cost of civil engineering works in the UK. The organisation wants the Government to intervene to lower these costs and also help with planning laws.
The BSG also wants Ofcom to provide a regulatory framework to support investment in next-generation networks.