Ofcom seeks to stimulate super-fast broadband in the UK

MARCH 4, 2009 -- Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, says it has cleared the way for companies and organisations to invest in super-fast broadband services for UK homes and businesses. The regulator has released a statement detailing its fibre upgrade plans.

MARCH 4, 2009 -- Ofcom (search Lightwave for Ofcom), the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, says it has cleared the way for companies and organisations to invest in super-fast broadband services for UK homes and businesses. Yesterday, the regulator released a statement detailing its fibre upgrade plans.

Super-fast--or next-generation--broadband can deliver speeds of up to 10 times the level of today's broadband services.

In the home, it will allow different members of a household to access a variety of high-bandwidth services at the same time; they could watch high-definition TV, play interactive online games, and stream or download music, TV programmes, and films over the internet, say Ofcom representatives.

For businesses, it will enable simultaneous services such as two-way video calls, improved data retrieval, and provide more opportunities for working from home.

Super-fast broadband can be delivered in a number of ways, with fibre, cable, copper wires, mobile, fixed wireless, and satellite each having a role to play.

A number of companies have already announced plans to invest in and rollout super-fast broadband in the UK over these networks. These include Virgin Media, which already offers super-fast broadband and plans to extend this offer across its entire network, and BT, which plans to upgrade its copper access network with fibre-optic cable.

The main focus of yesterday's Ofcom statement is the upgrade of the copper access network--which connects most homes and businesses in the UK--to fibre.

The 66-page statement details Ofcom's approach to the future regulation of super-fast broadband, including the elements needed to promote private sector investment and competition. (Click here to read the full statement.)

"Super-fast broadband represents one of the most important developments in modern communications for many decades," contends Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. "It will deliver significant benefits to consumers and businesses with the prospect of new digital services delivered over the Internet at high speed.

"Our message . . . is clear," he continues. "There are no regulatory barriers in the way of investment in super-fast broadband; we want to promote investment but also ensure that there is fair and effective competition for the future.'


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