BT chief: high speed broadband is ‘absolutely critical’ for UK

The Chairman of BT, Sir Mike Rake, has spoken of what he sees as the extreme importance of high speed broadband for both the domestic and commercial spheres.

Speaking at a recent meeting of leading companies which plan to give economic advice to the Welsh Government , Sir Mike said that broadband had ‘not only moved from being a luxury to a necessity’, but was ‘now seen as a utility’.

Sir Mike praised the current initiative by the UK government to incentivise private companies to invest in the expansion of high speed broadband across the county; particularly in rural areas where homes and businesses are currently said to be lagging behind in the broadband revolution.

Signalling out Wales as including many areas where high speed broadband had been slower to develop, Sir Mike explained that the ‘topography’ had thus far been ‘a particular challenge’.

He added, however, that BT was ‘engaged very heavily in Wales’ and said believed that in cooperation with the national authorities, and with help from government funding, ‘we could cover 90% of the country’.

Sir Mike said that the remaining 10% of the country might need assistance from technologies other than cabling to receive access to high speed broadband, and cited ‘wireless and satellite’ as two likely examples.

The drive to increase high speed broadband access across the UK has been stepped up in recent years following a realisation that without the technology consumers and businesses cannot function on an equal footing with others across the world; a problem which has particularly worrying implications for business competitiveness.

In recent years, for example, many companies with access to high speed broadband have benefited from being able to adopt business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and internet protocol (IP) telephony, resulting in cheaper voice calls and a more versatile, responsive use of their business phone systems.