UK broadband in trouble

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) has voiced uncertainties surrounding the next-generation of broadband.
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The governments advisory group claims that telecoms firms must be encouraged to build faster networks within two years if the UK is not to incur a widening digital divide and profound social and economic setbacks.

According to a year long report, broadband is the critical enabling infrastructure of the UK's modern knowledge-based economy, however it warns that it could be under threat if more work is not done to update the UK's telecoms infrastructure to handle very high-speed broadband, reported the BBC.

The body claims that ubiquitous and cheap high-speed broadband (20Mbps at the very least) would more than likely bring with it a new wave of innovation and many undiscovered benefits. It went on to say that that there was little evidence that the UK's existing telecoms infrastructure would be able to bring such high speeds to much of the population.

On top of this, rampant competition between telecom firms is blamed for creating a climate in the UK which discourages any one company from investing in the hardware required to improve the top speed the networks.

"Broadband matters,” said Kip Meek, BSG chairman. “There's plenty of evidence that broadband itself has had a very beneficial impact on economic performance. The move from narrowband to broadband has been very important and our hunch is that the move from low-speed broadband will be just as important.

“The point we have come to, whatever technology is adopted be it fibre, wireless or whatever, is that there will be a hefty bill,” continued Meek. “We have to create the circumstances in the UK where someone is prepared to write out the cheques to do that."

In response to the report, a spokesman for Virgin Media (formerly NTL/Telewest) said that some of what the BSG was calling for was already available over cable.

He claimed that that Virgin Media's 10Mbps service will increase to 20Mbps from May and it is running trials of 50Mbps among some customers in Ashford, Kent. "We can do both without major infrastructure changes to the network," he said.

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