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Broadband - you are the the weakest link

Microsoft supremo Bill Gates adds his voice to broadband concerns

In his address to business leaders at Microsoft's fifth annual chief executive conference Bill Gates has pointed the finger at broadband as the weakest link for the Internet industry in the next decade.

His comments come as criticisms about the deployment of broadband in the UK reach a crescendo as operators and a series of surveys variously blame the government, Oftel and BT for the lack of broadband services available to consumers.

Gates agrees that high-speed Internet access is not yet affordable for consumers. "There is no hardware limitation that will affect what you want to do, but there is one exception, and that is the cost of broadband communication, primarily to the home," Gates said. "That is an area where progress continues to be very slow."

He remains optimistic that 20 percent of US homes will have a fast Internet link within four years. "So that's the one thing holding us back. You wish there would be some breakthrough in that, but there won't be in the next three or four years," he said.

In the UK though the picture looks bleaker. A survey from the OECD puts the UK 21st out of 30 nations for broadband connections, below New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

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