Blair wants better broadband strategy

‘Electronic networks are important to the UK both economically and socially. Government has an important role to play in their development along with the private sector,’ Blair said in a response to a parliamentary question submitted by Kevin Hughes, the former miner and Labour MP for Doncaster North.

‘The current work to set up the new regulator Ofcom gives us a good opportunity to take stock of how the UK can benefit from developments in electronic networks over the next decade,’ the prime minister said.

A statement from the Cabinet Office said the new report would take a more strategic overview to complement ongoing work by the broadband stakeholder group, the Digital TV action group, Oftel, the e-envoy’s department, the DTI and the Treasury.

The project, to be completed by next summer, will examine how important networks are to the growth of the economy, will predict market and technological trends and look at how best the sector can be regulated.

E-minister Douglas Alexander will sponsor it, and it will be used to help lay out Ofcom’s role, although the timing means the government may struggle to meet a 25 July 2003 deadline to introduce legislation based on EC directives published last month.

They would base regulation of broadcasting and networks on the lines of the European Commission’s competition department.

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