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Broadband Britain picking up speed – E-envoy

Only serious players left, apparently...

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E-envoy Andrew Pinder gave an upbeat assessment of the roll out of broadband in the UK this morning, saying the number of consumers getting high speed connections was growing "exponentially".

Pinder compared the rate of take up to the explosion in mobile phone use in the late 1990s.

In a keynote speech opening the TMA2002 convention in Brighton this morning, Pinder commented on the state of the telecoms market over the last twelve months.

Last year the industry was "deep in the mire" of a broadband depression whereas now the market is beginning to see recovery, he said.

The conference this year is noticeably smaller and quieter than in previous years with, for example, the Brighton Conference Centre remaining unused. This reflects the downturn in the telecoms sector as a whole, but Pinder spun this as an advantage.

"There were a lot of people in the sector who shouldn’t have been," said Pinder, who declined to name names. "Now we’re left with serious players."

Analysts didn’t share Pinder’s opinion that this market contraction was necessarily welcome.

Chris Lewis, Vice President, Research & Consulting, at the Yankee Group, said that the supply and demand of broadband services were "out of kilter", pointing to a lack of capacity in the market that might impair service delivery.

Incumbents have used their position in the market to beat off competition, he added.

LLU was a distraction

Too much attention was paid to the issue of local loop unbundling last year, Pinder opined, adding that this issue could only be properly tackled after a robust wholesale market was established. Higher speed access and delivery of broadband to rural communities needs to be the next priority for the industry, he suggests.

Current broadband packages, typically delivering 500Kbps, "take away the wait" on Internet connections and 2Mbps is fast enough for the delivery of business applications and services. These are just a starting point, however, and the industry should set a goal of delivering access speeds of 10Mbps, according to Pinder.

Government needs to create the right environment for broadband to flourish and increase awareness of the benefits of broadband among consumers and business.

In an oblique reference to Korea (which is generally acknowledged as a leader in broadband delivery), Pinder said over the last year Britain had reached the point where it was "no longer falling behind but catching up". ®

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