Speaking at the Digital Britain Forum taking place at the British Library today, Mandelson said: "Government cannot be indifferent to the wider national needs. Can we rest comfortably knowing that only half [of the UK] will have next-generation broadband?"
After the speech he was questioned further about public investment in high-speed broadband services.
"Of course there's a possibility – but not a certainty, due to those who operate above my pay grade. [But] market forces should not be displaced where they can do better job than government. " he said.
In his speech, Mandelson said that broadband would not just underwrite the communications industry, "it will re-define the production and competitiveness of British industry for years to come."
Earlier, prime minister Gordon Brown told delegates that UK citizens had "a universal right to internet access, with universal connectivity a crucial stepping stone to the digital society."
But Lord Carter's interim Digital Britain report defined the speed of this universal access as "up to 2Mbit/s," far behind speeds achievable for the 50 per cent of the UK in the catchment area of BT's and Virgin Media's optical-fibre rollouts.
UK Government could bankroll superfast broadband
By Dave Bailey on Apr 18, 2009 8:17AM