Broadband for all

LONDON (11/12/2003) - U.K. e-commerce Minister Stephen Timms Wednesday urged the government, public bodies and broadband providers to make the final push to deliver broadband services to all of the U.K. by the end of 2005.

Speaking at the MIT Institute's Competitiveness Summit in Newcastle, Timms laid down his broadband agenda, requesting "better partnerships between the broadband industry, government and local communities" in order to achieve total broadband coverage in "a far shorter timescale than ever envisaged".

"This is an ambitious target but I am confident that we can make the benefits of broadband available to businesses as well as to every community far earlier than we previously thought," said Timms.

But requests earlier this week from BT Group plc to reduce the restrictions placed on it by telco watchdog Oftel regarding its broadband products and networks have not gone down well with rival ISPs, making BT's vision of a harmonious relationship between the broadband industry even less likely.

ISP Freeserve told the Trade and Industry select committee -- the body responsible for making decisions about BT's requests -- that more vigorous adjustments costs on local loop unbundling were needed to enable the competition to move away from its dependency on BT and offer new services.

Recent figures from BT Openworld show 80 percent of the U.K. population are now able to access a high-speed internet connection.

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