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MPs slap Govt's broadband strategy

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The British Government and industry received a rap on the knuckles today for underestimating consumer demand for broadband.

The ticking off was part of broader dig at the Government's handling of broadband in Britain published by the Culture, Media and Sport Commitee on the Communications White Paper.

Although the findings of the committee were couched in parliamentary politeness, it's clear that the committee doesn't share Patricia Hewitt's (the Minister for Textiles and part-time E-minister) optimism.

Ms Hewitt had earlier rejected "the very pessimistic views...that we are hopelessly lagging behind" in the race to develop widespread and competitive broadband networks.

But the committee concluded: "...we are deeply disappointed that the Government's broadband strategy appears to be developing in virtual isolation from the public and consumer needs and opportunities created by analogue switch-off."

It went on: "The role of both digital television and of Internet-based broadcasting as consumer services in driving broadband take-up is largely neglected in that strategy.

"We believe this reflects a broader underestimation by both Government and industry of consumer demand for broadband services."

The report urged Government to tackle these weaknesses "as a matter of urgency".

Earlier this week Ms Hewitt said that she was "the first to admit that the path to broadband internet access has not so far been smooth" things were improving. ®

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