In what is being billed as a make or break year for Broadband Britain, the head of the government's advisory body on broadband has called for better marketing and increased competition to convince users of the benefits of high-speed internet access.
"We're not happy with the current rate of adoption and we're going to take action to speed it up," said former ICL chief executive Keith Todd, now chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG).
The group warned last December that the UK was falling behind in its efforts to have the most competitive broadband market of the G8 countries.
Since making its initial recommendations to the government, which said it will adopt 14 of the 15 measures but rejected proposals to subsidise the cost of upgrading infrastructure, the BSG has established five working parties to monitor developments. They are scheduled to report findings and make further suggestions this June.
The group has already called for tax breaks for infrastructure investment and content developers, and challenged the government to purchase broadband to run applications for the National Health Service and to improve online learning in schools and colleges.
A fund to support developers which are prepared to produce applications suited only to broadband connections has also been mooted.
The BSG suggested that the government should have a light regulatory touch that focused on increasing competition, which is being threatened by an emerging BT monopoly in the volume wholesaling of one of the leading broadband technologies, digital subscriber line (DSL).
"We definitely need more competition at the wholesale level [of DSL]," said Todd. "But I do believe we have the basic regulatory framework in place to achieve that."
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