Vaizey hails 'world leader' UK as broadband rollout continues
Ed Vaizey, the creative industries and telecommunications minister, praised the UK for being a "world leader" online, as investment in broadband continues to create new opportunities.
Ed Vaizey:creative industries and telecommunications minister
Speaking at the Cable Congress in London yesterday, Vaizey said plans to put broadband at the heart of our economic growth agenda, are on track.
Through an investment programme of £1.2bn of public money, and through working in partnership with industry, the Government is connecting 100,000 more homes and businesses to broadband each week.
Take-up of superfast broadband in the last quarter alone was said to be more than 650,000.
The UK internet economy was valued at £82bn last year, or 8.3% of the entire economy (the highest proportion for any G8 country).
Vaizey said: "The pace of change is impressive – BT is making fibre available to 100,000 new homes and businesses per week, and combined with Virgin's upgrade figures, take-up of superfast services in the last quarter alone was well over 650,000.
"The UK is already a world leader in the online economy, with the internet contributing more than 8% of GDP. Our flagship businesses are tapping into global markets, and our consumers enjoy excellent choice and services when choosing their broadband and phones."
New figures from Ofcom show the UK compares favourably with other major European economies. On all measures of coverage, take-up, usage, price and choice, the country ranks between third and first in the European Union's five leading economies, ahead of France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Vaizey said: "Through this investment, and working in partnership with industry, we will see much faster speeds, millions more homes and businesses able to enjoy these speeds, and a market which boasts high competition and low prices, particularly compared to our European neighbours."
The minister pledged to remove the barriers and red tape that could have prevented investment and innovation in the past. He said: "We cannot allow rollout to be delayed by planning refusals, or confusion when carrying out street works, or by long-running legal issues over access to private land.
"Our goal is to provide certainty, to ensure the money invested in rollout is used to take superfast broadband further, not wasted on delays and disputes. It is important that the regulatory framework governing the telecoms sector is fit for purpose and competitive."
Minister celebrates first 19 local TV licences
Last week, Vaizey heralded the awarding of the final local TV licence – for the city of Preston – as a key milestone in the creation of a new media industry in the UK.
The regulator received 57 applications to run 19 town and city-based TV channels. The first channels are expected to begin broadcasting by the end of the year.
Ofcom selected the areas as they were deemed technically capable of receiving a local TV service and had sufficient interest from potential operators.
Each bid was assessed against set criteria that included its proposals for programmes and the viability of the business plan.
Vaizey said: "Newspapers and radio stations are cornerstones of local communities, and local TV will help enhance the areas they serve. They will help hold local councils and services to account while creating new jobs and opportunities in these towns and cities.
"Awarding the final licence is a real step forward. Truly local TV services will soon become a reality for millions of people across the UK."
The first 19 local TV services will cover Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Preston, Sheffield and Southampton.
Ofcom is currently preparing to offer licences for a second group of towns and cities later this year.Follow @DurraniMix
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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