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UK still lags in broadband extensiveness

Price cuts and progress in wireless and satellite have helped to make Britain the third most competitive broadband market in the G7, but that only tells half the story
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

The UK government's target of making Broadband Britain a world leader has moved a little closer.

A new report by research group Analysys has found that the UK now boasts the third most competitive broadband market of all the G7 industrialised nations, e-commerce minister Stephen Timms told the Westminster Media Forum on Tuesday.

However, Britain still languishes in 5th place when it comes to extensiveness. A DTI spokeswoman told ZDNet UK News on Wednesday that the UK came "very, very close" to overtaking the fourth-placed US.

The government's aim is to make Britain "the most competitive and extensive broadband market in the G7 by 2005", a target that has long been seen as unachievable by many in the industry.

Timms also said that the UK now had two million broadband customers. This achievement, though, will not help the UK move up the G7 league table.

Competitiveness is calculated in terms of market regulation, the number of companies competing to offer broadband services, and price. Extensiveness is measured in terms of market context -- how much competition broadband faces from services such as unmetered narrowband and digital TV -- and availability, or coverage.

According to the DTI, the improvement in competitiveness is partly due to price cuts, and partly due to a growth in the availability of emerging technologies such as wireless and satellite broadband solutions.

Wireless is widely seen as the key technology that will make broadband available to those places where cable broadband and ADSL aren't available.

"I'm pleased to see that wireless is being used in a range of projects across the country," Timms told the Westminster Media Forum.

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