British culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the market was not delivering high speed broadband as well as it could as he criticised mobile operator legal action around the forthcoming 4G radio spectrum auction.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, Hunt said: "We need to ensure we do not make the same mistake in broadband that we made in railways," adding that Britain built high-speed networks 45 years after France and 62 years after Japan.
The culture secretary delivered a hard hitting speech where he called for access to physical infrastructure to be "sorted out and quickly," preempting the almost inevitable telco complaints of access charges BT are set to unveil later this month.
Hunt pointed out that Sweden had completed their spectrum auction for 4G services in 2009 and Germany in 2010 and France would complete theirs in 2011. The UK radio spectrum auction is not expected to progress until the second quarter next year but legal disputes threaten even that time frame.
"Mobile phone operators must put aside competitive differences and work together in their common, and our national, interest to make this happen," said Hunt.