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Hunt urges telecom giants to put rivalries aside
Rivalries between telecom companies are in danger of impeding Britain’s internet advancement, Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s culture secretary, has warned. Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge yesterday (14 September) Mr Hunt said the UK was in danger of falling behind the rest of Europe in the roll out of super-fast broadband.
He warned that disputes between BT and rival companies over the cost of using its infrasructure, such as telegraph poles, were not being resolved quickly enough. Earlier this year internet service providers including Fujitsu, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, wrote to Ed Vaizey, communications minister, complaining about costs for access to BT’s network. Adressing this issue Mr Hunt said: “PIA [physical infrastructure access] has to be sorted out – and quickly – in a way that allows fair competition with different providers able to invest in our broadband infrastructure.”
With a green paper due on a new communications act by the end of the year, Mr Hunt cautioned that the UK had fallen behind its international counterparts with technological advancements in the past. He said: “We need to ensure we do not make the same mistake in broadband that we made in railways – building our high-speed network 45 years after the French and 62 years after the Japanese.”
He also warned the forthcoming 4G spectrum auction could be further delayed if mobile phone networks did not put aside their competitive difference. The new spectrum is urgently required by Three and Everything Everywhere, the owner of Orange and T-Mobile, in order to cope with the huge increase of internet usage through mobile phones.The volume of mobile internet data is tripling every year, and predicted to increase 26-fold by 2015. Vodafone and O2 have spare spectrum and it is feared they may launch legal action to delay the auction, currently scheduled for the second quarter of 2012.
“Sweden completed their auction in 2009, Germany last year, Italy is doing theirs this week and France will finish theirs this year,” said Mr Hunt. “Mobile phone operators must put aside competitive differences and work together in their common – and our national – interest to make this happen.”