ISPA submits broadband action plan to parliament

Triggers all round, more price cuts...

The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) is encouraging the government to create an environment that encourages further growth of the UK broadband market.

The trade association last week submitted written evidence to a Trade and Industry Select Committee inquiry into broadband, where it spelled out a proposed action program to help boost broadband take-up in the UK.

For greater transparency, the ISPA would like BT to specify trigger levels for all UK exchanges not currently broadband enabled.

Matthew Hare, Chair of the ISPA Broadband Subgroup, said: “ISPA believes that the widest possible access to broadband will hugely benefit the UK economy. A positive step towards achieving universal coverage of mass-market broadband products would be to set ‘trigger levels’, no matter how high, for all the remaining exchanges. This would bring some transparency to the problem of achieving universal coverage, and therefore provide a better understanding of the task that lies ahead.”

The ISPA also wants the cost of broadband reduced in order to further stimulate demand in the market and greater market competition. Given that the prices of broadband services have fallen drastically over the last couple of years, the scope for further reductions might be more limited than the ISPA would like.

As part of its submission to the committee, the ISPA encouraged the Trade and Industry Select Committee to recommend a "period of regulation to assist broadband roll-out".

“The ISPA believes that regulation will almost certainly be required in a market where a single operator continues to hold a significant market power," said the ISPA's Hare. "Ideally regulation over time will fade out and the market will become the best vehicle for successful broadband coverage.”

The trade group also submitted evidence arguing that achieving the government's aims for Broadband Britain requires a "mixed technology approach and fair access to wholesale networks for ISPs".

As part of its submission, the ISPA also raised concerns about the government's Traffic Management and Street Works Bill which it believes will increase the costs and lengthen the time needed to provision telecomms services. This will have a negative effect on the roll out of broadband services, the ISPA says.

A deadline for written submissions to the Trade and Industry Select Committee's Inquiry into Broadband was reached last Friday. A DTI spokeswoman said a timetable for members of the committee to consider this evidence is yet to be set. ®

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