Greater Cambridge needs broadband technology now, say members


Moves to encourage earlier and wider availability of high-speed broadband communications technology - capable of delivering data links up to 40 times faster than current modems - have been welcomed by Cambridge Network members.

Dr David Cleevely, CEO of and one of the Network's founders, said: 'It is scale which is going to be important for us, but we cannot grow unless we have the right infrastructure.' He added that CN was now working with other parts of the East of England to achieve the scale and momentum which will deliver the new economy and a major announcement on this would be made at the end of Apri.

'Broadband access via ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines) or cable modems is critical if local companies are not to be competitively disadvantaged, especially compared to the US,'he said.

Some 40 Cambridge Network members had responded to a request for views and the consensus was clear - there is a real need for broadband in greater Cambridge and the East of England now.

Dr Cleevely voiced the concerns of many in pointing out the limitations of ASDL roll-out promised in BT's first wave, due this month. Although some parts of Cambridge City, including the Science Park, will be covered, many other areas - home to SMEs and outworkers - will not.

A spokesman from , the area's cable modem provider, said: 'We are on the case and will be coming back to David Cleevely and the Cambridge Network by the end of the week with definite plans.'

Dr Cleevely added: 'We're very enthusiastic about all this but very concerned that all of Cambridge (and the surrounding area) gets connected as soon as possible.

'The economics of deploying broadband are such that (a) you need a minimum demand to make it worthwhile rolling out the network and (b) the bigger the demand, the more incentive there is for the operator to roll out the network very quickly. If we can show a huge demand in Cambridge and the surrounding area, then even those places currently not scheduled could find themselves shooting up the priority list.'

'The Cambridge Network is therefore preparing a campaign to show the operators that there is a huge demand and that it is worth taking Cambridge very seriously. Our Open Meeting on Tuesday confirmed that the demand was there - and, even more impressively, there were several people who would contribute to building a third alternative network if the other providers proved to be too slow.

'We're confident that a strong campaign will deliver a broadband Cambridge very rapidly and we will be organising a major Open Meeting at the end of April, at which we hope to present members' views and our estimates of the level of demand. We will listen to what BT, ntl and other parties have to say and ask questions - and get some firm answers.'

  • Cambridge Network's new chief operating officer, Brian Birtles, is keen to hear your views on this important issue. Email him at