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The e-minister plans to create a broadband market in the UK by aggregating public sector demand. The CMA described Alexander's latest words as very encouraging, but called on the government to extend the plan to industry as well.
Alexander told the Analysys Conference in Cambridge: "The public sector is the largest single consumer of broadband in the country. We need to use that purchasing power to leverage growth in the market more widely."
The aggregation policy has been talked about throughout the year, but has yet to produce much change on the ground. Nevertheless, David Harrington, director general of the CMA, told CW360.com: "The government's aggregation initiative is a great step forward, but this should be extended to commerce and industry. We will do all we can to ensure our members jump on the aggregate purchaser bandwagon. Let's get on with it and get broadband Britain moving."
Harrington called for better marketing of broadband: "The average SME does not need to hear about ADSL, and pipes and jargon. SMEs care about what advantages their businesses will gain from broadband," he said.
Alexander also promised to put pressure on British Telecom to drive down costs so broadband prices can be brought down to mass market levels and ensure that BT markets the benefits of broadband Britain more effectively.
The e-minister made his speech just days after e-envoy Andrew Pinder hinted in a speech at the CBI conference that the Treasury was not convinced of the need for extra funding for broadband roll-out.
Harrington said that Alexander had reassured the industry that broadband is still high on the government's agenda. "The speech is a clear statement of the government's intentions. It reaffirms its commitment to making the UK the best place for e-business and reassures us that this goal has not been swept under the carpet," said Alexander.