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Labour Conference: Broadband should be left to market, says minister

Rebecca Thomson

The market should be left to its own devices when it comes to investing in next generation broadband, said cabinet office minister Tom Watson, speaking at the Labour party conference yesterday.

He said the government will not intervene, but instead will leave it to companies such as BT and Virgin Media to come up with a plan for investment and a business model for rolling out high bandwidth internet across the UK.

"It is a new, emerging market and companies should be left to develop their own business model." he said.

The government, however, will review the situation in two or three years, if a successful business model has not been developed by the companies involved.

The MP for West Bromwich was speaking at a fringe meeting hosted by the IPPR and Virgin Media at the Labour party conference.

Kip Meek, from the Broadband Stakeholder Group and Dominic Morris from Ofcom agreed there should be minimum government intervention.

But Vic Keegan, a technology commentator, said demand for high bandwidths is growing, with the increase of video conferencing and services such as the BBC iPlayer.

"We must not lock ourselves into a situation where there cannot be intervention," he said.

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