Former communications minister and Digital Britain champion Lord Carter has warned that planned Tory spending cuts could cripple the government's network infrastructure plans.
Carter said that in a fast-changing macroeconomic climate Europe could only avoid being sidelined by the rising Middle Eastern and Chinese economies through concentrating on IP, services and skills.
"Our communications capability will make a difference," he said, speaking at at the opening of the 2009 IP Expo show in London.
The Digital Britain plan is part of a wider EU initiative - a fact lost on many in Carter's audience - and the UK is already lagging far behind.
"We must have a collaborative payment model where the network is a national utility," he said.
This model was gaining favour in other EU nations, said Carter, and a part public, part private funding scheme was behind the government's recent decision to charge a monthly levy on UK landlines.
"I was also disappointed that the shadow chancellor didn't talk about the online delivery of public services," said the Labour peer.
Carter called for cross-party dialogue to ensure that the communications industry didn't lose out, although he acknowledged that in the current political climate this was nigh on impossible.
"That's why the communications industry must make its voice clearly heard, otherwise we'll be two to three years behind the rest of Europe," he said.