Telecoms industry representatives have expressed concern that the departure of Digital Britain report author, communications minister Lord Stephen Carter, could see commitments such as universal broadband shelved.
Carter, who released the Digital Britain report last month, is to step down from his role this week. He is believed to be returning to the private sector and rumoured to be taking on a position at ITV.
Debate during a Westminster eForum in London today entitled “Dear Stephen” sparked concern that the aims of Digital Britain may not be upheld by Carter’s successor, and by a potential new Government next year.
BT director for industry policy and regulation Emma Gilthorpe said: “We are very nervous that the hard work will lose momentum following Carter’s departure, but we will see who the successor is in two weeks time. In a few months time it might even be a case of Stephen Who?”
Alastair Davidson, directory for strategy, marketing and business development and network infrastructure provider Arqiva, said: “We hope that if there is a change in government that the initiatives started here will continue.”
Communications Consumer Panel chair Anna Bradley said the industry and its stakeholders must put pressure on the Government to keep Digital Britain “on the table”.
Alcatel-Lucent UK and Ireland director Andy King said: “The industry must continue to drive this. There is a great risk (it will be lost) with Carter stepping down and a potential new Government next year.”
3 UK director of corporate affairs Hugh Davies said that if Digital Britain was shelved, the alternative would be “a long time in court for mobile operators” over issues of spectrum allocation.