Government summons telecoms chiefs to broadband summit

Britain’s leading telecoms executives and competitiveness minister, Stephen Timms, are meeting today to find ways to prevent Britain’s slide down the world broadband league.

Government summons telecoms chiefs to broadband summit

Timms will meet with executives from BT, Virgin Media, Sky and the regulator Ofcom, among others, to discuss ways of speeding up the broadband network.

The government is concerned that British industry could suffer if broadband speeds don’t improve in line with the rest of the world. “We need to be discussing how we can put this new network into place, because delay could be a barrier to the future success of our economy,” Timms tells the BBC.

In September, Timms raised the possiblity of the government part-funding fibre-to-the-home, in a bid to boost speeds over the “last mile”. The UK has fallen behind many other European countries in regard to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH, but BT has repeatedly stated that it can’t make the business case for laying fibre across the nation by itself.

Ofcom is currently leading a consultation on next-generation networks, although it has a rather rose-tinted view of Britain’s broadband infrastructure. In the consultation paper, the regulator stated that the UK’s average broadband speed was 4.6Mb/sec – an average figure of the theoretical maximum speeds, and not the real average of connection speeds, which surveys repeatedly show is between 2-3Mb/sec.

A report released earlier this year claimed Britain had one of the slowest broadband speeds in Europe, sitting below nations such as Slovakia, Poland and Holland.

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