UK ‘broadband for all’ plan under threat

Last week’s dire profit warning from BT has put the company’s plans to build a new super-fast broadband network for 10 million British homes in jeopardy. The warning also appears to have made it critical that the rest of the telecoms industry now help meet the estimated £3.5bn cost of realising the government’s ambition to bring some form of broadband to every home by 2012.It emerged on Thursday that BT’s corporate IT business had wildly over-estimated the potential profits it could make from a handful of large contracts. BT’s chief executive, Ian Livingston, has come under pressure from shareholders to conserve cash by pulling his plan to spend £1.5bn on a next-generation, fibre-optic broadband network that would connect 40% of UK homes. The company has also made it quite plain to Lord Carter, the communications minister, that if he wants everyone to be able to get current-generation broadband within the next three years, BT cannot now be expected to shoulder the entire cost itself.

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