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Ex BT Research Man Warns UK Lacks Major NGA Broadband Investment

Posted: 20th Apr, 2010 By: MarkJ
uk fibre optic broadband cableThe former head of BT Research, Professor Peter Cochrane (OBE), has warned that the UK requires a major investment of £5-15 billion if it is to improve its world standing and bring fibre optic broadband services into every home and office.

Peter Cochrane wrote on the 360IT blog:

"In the mind of Government, the UK is at the forefront of the broadband revolution. Unfortunately, we are not even in the top 10. Our ranking is actually somewhere between 20th and 30th. So the clock is ticking.

The UK has to grasp the nettle, stop all debate, and get on with the job. In the next phase we are going to see manufacturing industry transformed by 3D replicators and networked operations across the planet. But without the infrastructure we won't be able to play."

Cochrane notes that leading economies ascribe more than 2% GDP growth to broadband expansion and highlights how the UK has since dropped from its pole position in I.T areas, such as the computer games industry. "Simply put, the industry followed the bandwidth," he remarked.

However Cochrane admits that finding estimates for the impact of inadequate access rates is difficult. Never the less he remains confident that the potential for economic rejuvenation is far greater with a top class broadband network than without.

To be fair £5bn may not be unrealistic but we would find it hard to imagine £15bn being handed down by the state to foster broadband deployment, especially so soon after such a recession. For comparison the USA recently announced a new £4.68 ($7.2) billion broadband stimulus package and you'd probably expect a lot more from a country that size.

Here in the UK the future of broadband remains in doubt until after the May 2010 general election. The prospect of a hung parliament could also make it even more difficult to reach consensus on a single way forward. However regardless of your preferred principal, both the major parties are effectively proposing to put £130m - £175m per year into Next Generation Access (NGA) deployment until at least 2017. That's not even close to £5bn.
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