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UK superfast rollout high on the agenda at Broadband World Forum

Tuesday, August 18th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The UK government’s superfast broadband programme will be high on the agenda at this year’s Broadband World Forum, organisers have said.

The forum, which is being held at London’s ExCel centre in October, is described as the world’s largest telecoms, media and technology event.

One of the topics to be discussed by industry leaders at the conference is how to meet the government’s target of taking superfast broadband to 95% of the UK.

The government last week announced that the rollout had reached 3m homes and is on track to reach 95% of the UK by 2017.

It is also exploring options to get to the 'final 5%' – the hardest to reach areas in the country.

Broadband World Forum organisers said this year’s event will encourage collaborations between operators, network owners and local government to ‘connect the unconnected’.

Ben Agnew, events director for Broadband World Forum, said: “What’s clear from the government’s superfast broadband programme is that internet connectivity is not just a developing nation issue.

“People in our own highly developed country are still unable to access the internet.

“The latest figures from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) show that 3m million homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps – two years before the 95% coverage deadline – yet that’s only 78% of the UK.

“There is clearly still a way to go, which is why we are particularly excited about Broadband World Forum this October.

Reaching 100% connectivity

“The show will bring the latest initiatives for delivering accessible, reliable and affordable coverage for all as well as empower companies to explore further ideas and unlock the revenue potential of the unconnected.”

The UK’s superfast broadband rollout has been a hot topic recently, with one MP telling digital minister Ed Vaizey that poor broadband means London is lagging behind European cities including Paris, Bucharest and Vilnius.

But BT Openreach CEO Joe Garner yesterday insisted that the UK is in a “leading position” when it comes to its fibre broadband rollout.

Mr Garner told the BBC: “I can tell you categorically our top priority is rolling out fibre to more and more of the country.

“We’re working in partnerships with local and central government, we’re well on our way to 95%, we’re leading Europe in that position and frankly I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.”

The issue will feature highly on the programme at Broadband World Forum, which has launched a new Access Innovation Zone, including presentations and debates on the latest technologies and strategies designed to get everyone online.

Sessions will include ‘Rural Broadband & Reaching 100% Connectivity’ and ‘Making the Internet Affordable for All’.

The 15th Broadband World Forum will take place at ExCel London from 20-22 October.

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