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Empty election rhetoric

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Minister for Textiles and part-time e-commerce minister, Patricia Hewitt, has hinted that public sector investment in broadband could be "significantly higher" than the £500 million that was estimated to be spent on the technology.

Speaking to the FT she said: "I think it will be significantly higher than that."

She also said that financial incentives might be needed to help the rollout of broadband to less lucrative areas.

She told the FT: "We'll continue to monitor the roll-out of broadband very closely in the private, as well as public, sector and then look at what further incentives might be needed."

So, nothing new there. In fact, Ms Hewitt is merely regurgitating parts of the Government's report into broadband published earlier this year in which it set out its goal to have the "most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005".

The report, UK online: the broadband future said that "pump priming" the marketplace - ie stimulating demand - was the best method to get broadband Britain moving.

The Government's stated policy on tax incentives was to keep an open mind if research showed it was needed.

Which means today's piece in the FT is little more than a piece of electoral spin and needs to be judged on that basis. Still, at least it shows the Government is keen on recycling. ®

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