Lord ‘Digital Britain’ Carter Warns Of Broadband Inaction


The government was wrong to delay universal broadband till 2015, said the former Digital Britain minister Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter, the architect of Labour’s Digital Britain plans, has warned that the current coalition government risks hobbling Britain’s economy by delaying universal broadband and failing to act on broadband funding.

“I do not agree with the shift from 2012 to 2015,” said Lord Carter, at a Westminster eForum sominar in London today, referring to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to delay a unversal 2Mbps broadband service compared with Labour plans. He also criticised Conservative opposition which eventually derailed plans for a 50p broadband tax designed to pay for better broadband.

Strong European role needed

While his remarks about government policy were couched in equivocal terms suited to his new role as a vice president of network equipment maker Altacel Lucent, Lord Carter’s feelings about regulation were definitely strong.

“Europe is stuck,” he said, referring to the complexity of creating a unified regulation system for Europe, a job which will be vitally important in the next five years.  The current fragmented system adds to the cost of doing business in Europe, and will make it harder for European countries to build the kind of broadband networks they need to remain competitive, he said.

“Intellectually, we need a single European regulator, but politically, it won’t happen in the next five years.”

Other speakers at the event spoke in favour of the BBC’s Project Canvas as a way of engaging people who otherwise would not go online, and against the idea of more regulations being put in its way.

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