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Telecoms urged to invest in faster networks

27 ноября 2007

 The government on Monday put renewed pressure on telecoms companies to invest in ultra-fast broadband networks, warning that the UK economy could suffer if they do not.

Stephen Timms, the competitiveness minister, has called companies including BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB, Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse to a summit meeting on Monday to discuss building a network that would allow consumers to download music, films and other material over the Internet at much higher speeds than today.
Telecoms urged to invest in faster networks
Virgin Media, the cable operator, is expected to add to the pressure on other telecoms companies - particularly BT - by announcing plans to roll out broadband access at 50 megabits per second starting next year.

This is more than twice the current top speed of 20 megabits per second available on its network. Virgin says it plans to make the high-speed service available to 70 per cent of its customers by the end of 2008.

However, Virgin Media only covers about 50 per cent of the UK population, and the government is also keen to see BT, whose network reaches almost all the population, build a higher-speed network.

"Ultra-fast broadband is going to be a key future technology that will allow our businesses to innovate, grow and create wealth. We need to be discussing on Monday how we can put this new network into place, because delay could be a barrier to the future success of our economy," Mr Timms said.

BT currently offers broadband speeds of about 24 megabits per second, but lobby organisations such as the Broadband Stakeholder's Group have argued that this will be insufficient if large numbers of people begin downloading television programmes and other bandwidth-hungry services over the Internet.

Moreover, the 24 megabits per second speeds are only available to about 10 per cent of customers who live very close to telephone exchanges. Speeds are highly dependent on the length of the copper cable that connects individual houses to exchanges.

Replacing the copper wires with fibre-optic cable would allow potentially unlimited speeds, but would mean digging up streets at an estimated cost of £15bn.

Источник: Financial Times

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