Digital economy to 'reboot' Britain

Ministers are hoping the £52bn ($90bn, €68bn) communications industry can play a key role in "rebooting" the economy following the financial crisis.

Lord Carter, the former regulator with the newly created role of communications minister, is to prepare a report on measures to strengthen the telecoms, media and technology sectors.

Lord Carter told the Financial Times on Friday that his ministerial boss, Lord Mandelson, business secretary, was "absolutely convinced the digital economy can be a key part of a rebooting of the economy".

An interim report on how to bolster the communications industry is due from Lord Carter in January, but he will also pursue longer-term work that could result in legislation.

A former chief executive of Ofcom, the media and telecoms regulator, he will address highly sensitive issues such as how to fund public-service broadcasting and a superfast broadband network. He said it was too early to give a view on such issues.

Explaining the reason for his work, Lord Carter said: "The economy is going through turbulent times and particular sectors ... not least the financial services sector, are going through particularly turbulent times.

"And therefore, let's look at other sectors ... technology, media, telecoms is a critical growth sector ... something we are extremely good at, quite well positioned in and could be even better positioned."

Lord Carter was Gordon Brown's strategy director, but moved during this month's reshuffle. He was never accepted by some of Mr Brown's inner circle, who regarded him as a technocrat. In his new role, he will look at how to equip Britain with a superfast broadband network that could cost as much as £29bn.

The government fears UK competitiveness may be damaged if no progress is made on high-speed broadband.

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