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Increasing the take-up and availability of broadband services in the UK are the two key proposals published yesterday by the Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG).

The BSG's second annual report suggests that after a slow start, the UK's broadband market is now developing rapidly.

But it calls for efforts to be redoubled to help accelerate demand for broadband in areas already wired up with high-speed Net access.

It argues that increased take-up will stimulate further investment in rolling out new networks and infrastructures, and will also help stimulate the creation of much-needed content, applications and services. However, awareness, availability and cost remain key stumbling blocks to mass-market take-up, it says.

With one eye on the demand side of the broadband equation, the BSG report also highlights the continuing issues relating to the lack of availability of broadband in some parts of the country.

Said the report: "It is critically important to include the rest of the country in this broadband journey by ensuring that we achieve much wider coverage at affordable prices by the end of 2005.

And it claims that in some areas of the UK public sector funding may also be required to ensure coverage suggesting that government will need "to proactively intervene where the market will not deliver either permanently or in the time scales required by the political agenda".

Indeed, the BSG seems to think that wireless broadband technologies are the way forward with the potential to make the "biggest impact on extending coverage and enhancing facilities based competition by 2005".

"We've made good progress this year," said Antony Walker, CEO, BSG in a statement.

"We've now got to focus on driving more volume into the broadband market and really demonstrate the demand for bandwidth. This will be essential for securing long-term capital investment for the future.

"On the demand side, online education should be exploited as a major driver of adoption – as we have seen in Korea, the classroom can be a springboard for mass adoption of broadband."

Yesterday, the prime minister pledged that every school in the UK would have a broadband connection by 2006.

A copy of the BSG can be found on its Web site broadbanduk.org. One industry insider who has already read the report described it as a "bit fluffy".

The BSG was set up to help the Government meet its targets on broadband. ®

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