UK government should combine network infrastructure plans, urge telecoms groups

By Andrew Charlesworth
10 Nov 2011 View Comments
Department of Energy & Climate Change

Senior representatives of telecoms companies and public network interest groups today called on government departments to co-operate on the development of network infrastructure, pulling together broadband, e-health and smart meter networks.

"Here's [the Department for Energy and Climate Change] DECC calling for the rollout of smart meters, which includes a communication element, to every domestic premise and business in the country. Why aren't the people from Ofcom talking to the people from DECC to combine these efforts?" asked Malcolm Corbett, chief executive of the Independent Networks Cooperative Association at a Westminster eForum event Delivering the UK's Broadband Future.

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"The money allocated for smart grids could be added to the funding for broadband rollout," he told an audience of telco representatives and officials from government Departments for Culture, Media and Sport, the Environment Farming and Rural Affiars and Business Industry and Skills, but not the energy ministry.

His call was echoed by Helen Milner, managing director or UK Online Centres, and Mel Philipson, chair of the National Education Network. Other delegates suggested the Department of Health should also be included, especially to promote patient-doctor communications, patient email in hospitals and other e-health services.

Rory Stevens, MP for Penrith and Borders, who tabled a debate in May pushing Ofcom to raise the mobile coverage obligation from 95 to 98 per cent of the UK population, urged the audience to lobby the Treasury to ensure such measures are included in the Chancellor's next statement.

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