Broadband should be election issue

Says Mayor of London's e-advisor

The e-business advisor to the Mayor of London has called on the major political parties to make broadband an election issue.

Speaking to The Register Colin Jenkins, who is on secondment to the Mayor's office from Energis, said that the future of broadband in Britain was in a parlous state.

"We're in dire trouble," he said. "We're falling behind and we need a miracle.

"If 'e' is the next industrial revolution then this should be an election issue," he said.

He believes money raised from the 3G licence auction should be used to fund roll-out broadband throughout the country.

"It is quite common for governments to invest in infrastructure - you need only look at roads and railways, for example," he said.

Last month Jenkins published a report in which he warned that at the current rate of DSL deployment it would take more than 900 years to connect every home in Britain.

He said that Government intervention was essential if the "broadband access/services dilemma is to be overcome".

The Government claims it is committed to broadband and has already laid out it goals in a report published earlier this year. However, while its rhetoric is strong the results have yet to show any sign of real progress. In UK Online: the broadband future the Government argued in favour of stimulating demand to help the roll-out process rather than funding any investment itself.

"...subsidising universal broadband infrastructure...raises a number of significant problems," it said.

New Labour is due to publish its manifesto later this week. As yet, it's not known if it will reflect any change of policy towards broadband Britain.

The Liberal Democrats are due to publish their manifesto tomorrow. A spokesman wouldn't say what would be in it but told The Register: "Unbundled access to the local loop is a key element is any strategy to develop competition in the UK telecoms market.

"Local Loop Unbundling should foster fair and substantially longer-term infrastructure competition, and for users provide a real choice of operators."

Which sounds like the LibDems have put their faith in LLU.

There appears to be no mention of broadband issue in the Conservative Party manifesto which was published last week. A party spokesman has yet to return a call about the Tories' position on broadband. ®

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