Investment in the UK's information economy could be torpedoed if telecoms regulator Ofcom bungles it soon-to-be-published telecoms review.
BT boss Ben Verwaayen today said that the UK needed sustained investment in its national broadband network to ensure that the "entrepreneurial new world that runs on digital knowledge and information" can thrive.
Addressing business leaders at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) conference in Birmingham, he warned that investment would be hit if regulator Ofcom did not enable sufficient reward from such investment when it publishes its review later this month.
"At this moment Ofcom is the most powerful and significant organisation in the UK, as we wait for the next phase of the Telecommunications Strategic Review. What it decides will be profound for your businesses and organisations. If it gets it right, we will see investment in this area accelerated. Get it wrong – even if unintentionally – and the impact will be clear to see in a year or so’s time, with investment cut back and the UK missing out on a leadership position.
"BT has a shared responsibility of course in getting the right outcome from the Review. It is a great challenge and responsibility for both of us. But in a world defined by comparative failure and success, we must have an environment for investment on a big as well as a small scale."
Outlining BT's investment record, Verwaayen acknowledged that while the UK has "a more extensive broadband network than any other G7 competitor...current networks are simply not broadband enough".
That's why BT is rebuilding its national telecoms infrastructure by investing in its 21st Century Network which is the telco's "vision for the future".
"It is not a monopolistic vision. It is part of a network of interconnecting and competing fixed and mobile networks. But it will replace the present patchwork layer of BT networks, built over generations of technology, with one nation-wide broadband network," he said. ®
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