UK 'must keep up' on broadband
Britain must ensure its broadband infrastructure does not lag behind those of other global players, industry experts have been told.
Addressing a broadband summit, Competitiveness Minister Stephen Timms said the UK must keep up with broadband developments.
BT, Virgin, the BBC, ITV and Cable and Wireless were among the organisations represented at the summit.
Mr Timms said: "When next-generation broadband starts to emerge, I don't want it to be claimed that Britain is being left behind. We need to work together to avoid the non-availability in Britain of commercially significant services emerging in the US and elsewhere."
The widespread availability of higher-speed broadband could create opportunities for new services and broadband uses, he added.
The summit was described as an opportunity for Government and the broadband industry to discuss the future of broadband. It follows a report released in September by Ofcom that warned the UK's current broadband network would be unable to meet future customer demand for very high speed connections.
The communications regulator said operators would have to make "significant" investment in overhauling the existing infrastructure.
Commenting ahead of the summit, Virgin Media pledged to launch 50 megabit broadband next year. This would be far quicker than the firm's existing broadband connection speeds.
Virgin Media acting CEO Neil Berkett said: "We'll never know exactly what demand there'll be for super-fast broadband until it's in people's homes and workplaces up and down the UK.
"What we do know is that our cable network has a unique potential to revolutionise consumers' experience and we're convinced that 2008 is the moment to take the lead with the commercial launch of a 50-megabit product."