Digital Britain must include mobile operators

Mobile phone companies have a major part to play in working with fixed-line operators in providing both the universal service commitment and next-generation broadband for the UK.

This was the consensus at the Westminster eForum in London, with speakers in agreement that the government's ambitious Digital Britain plans could not be carried out without the support of the mobile industry.

Alastair Davidson, director for strategy, marketing and business development at Arqiva, said that the government needed to recognise the importance of wireless technology in delivering broadband service.

He said: "We believe that the broadband fund needs to be made available to all wireless as well as fixed-line operators."

Davidson said that the Digital Britain report didn't recognise that mobile operators already worked together to build shared infrastructure, noting the partnerships between operators 3 and T-Mobile, as well as O2 and Vodafone.

"We think that the ability of operators to work together is actually crucially important for delivering high-speed broadband for all," he said.

Phil Sheppard, the director of technical solutions at mobile operator 3, later said that fixed-line broadband and mobile broadband could be complimentary as well as competitive with each other.

Point Topic chief executive Oliver Johnson agreed, highlighting the fact that businesses would need different solutions depending on the situation.

"A lot of businesses will look at fixed-line broadband and say it's a single point of failure," he said. "Somebody drills through your pipe and you're a bit stuck.

"A lot of them will have a backup in the wireless sense, so from a business point of view it's a good idea."