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UK will miss 2005 broadband goal

Govt research confirms what we all knew

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Britain's broadband strategy lies in tatters today after Government-backed research found it will fail to meet its goal to make the UK the most competitive and extensive broadband market in the G7 by 2005.

The damning report, currently in its final draft, concludes that even if the Government adopts all the recommendations contained in the Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG) report published last month, Britain will still be a middle-ranking broadband nation only by 2005.

The unpublished report, seen by The Register and compiled by Analysys on behalf of the Office of the e-Envoy, shows that Britain is one of the most expensive countries for broadband. It also scores badly on availability and choice of services on offer.

The research found that Britain is lagging in ninth place, ahead of Italy and Ireland in an international league table of countries.

But it predicts that even if all the recommendations of the BSG are carried out, including subsidies and tax incentives, then Britain will advance judst three positions to sixth place by 2005.

According to the research, Britain will still trail South Korea, Sweden, Canada, Japan and the US.

The report is currently with e-envoy, Andrew Pinder. It's not known if the Government has any plans to publish the document.

The Broadband Market Index attempts to compare the UK's performance against different international broadband markets.

Reflecting on the current standing of the broadband market the report says: "The UK appears to be slightly under-performing in terms of weighted average price and performance (measurement of availability and choice), however, it does outperform countries such as Italy in terms of price (no cheap cable offering), and France in terms of performance (greater choice between DSL and cable).

It continues: "One of the major issues facing the UK at the moment is a lack of demand. Whilst the UK is towards the bottom of the pack in terms of 'attractiveness' of the broadband market (combination of price, availability and choice) this difference does not seem to be in itself enough to justify the very low penetration figures.

"For example Italy has no cheap cable modem offer, so is on average more expensive than the UK, with less customer choice/competition and yet has a higher penetration, Australia has significantly higher penetration than the UK with only a marginally more attractive market," it says.

These assessments by Government-backed researchers cast doubt over the Government's handling and strategy towards making the UK the "most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005".

Last week NetValue reported that Britain trailed its broadband league table, only managing to beat Italy. ®

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