Ewan Sutherland, executive director of the International Telecommunication Users Group (Intug), said: “The Japanese companies don’t even make 500kbps modems anymore, but this is the broadband speed the UK is building its market on."
“Instead, Japan is making 45mbps modems to serve a market which can be three times cheaper a month for users than the UK.”
Ian Taylor MP, former Tory science and technology minister, said, “The education benefits of broadband in the UK are obvious but we do seem to be in a situation of having to keep selling it.”
Taylor, who was minister when the UK telecoms market was opened up to competition, said it was wrong, however, to focus on the wired market to deliver broadband. He said wireless spectrum technologies could be used to make the UK a more competitive broadband market.
CMA director, David Happy said he was concerned that the government was selling off parts of the wireless spectrum without considering the need to promote broadband access.
The CMA annual membership survey published at the conference showed that a majority of members wanted the government to intervene to make sure broadband access was more widely available.
But Ofcom chairman Lord Currie said: “The argument that people in other countries won’t get out of bed for less than 10mbps is irrelevant. Here we have to focus on our competitive market, which is different from the likes of Korea (where the government has intervened in rolling out broadband and 3G), and get to 10mbps competitively.”
Philip Virgo, secretary general of parliamentary body Eurim (European Information Society Group), suggested that this highlighted the fact that Europe was no longer a driving force in technology standards.
“The lack of technology standards being driven by western countries is worrying, this could have an impact on jobs,” Virgo said.
Delegates heard that China was developing its own wireless Lan standard, on top of its move to develop its own 3G mobile solution.