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London lags in EU web access

Ken kicks e-businesses into touch

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, warned yesterday that London's current position as 'Europe's leading e-business centre' will be under threat unless the government takes action over internet access.

Where the worlds of politics and the internet collide, silly job titles and hyperbole rule. The Greater London Authority's e-business report, released yesterday, indicates the UK is falling behind competitors around the world when it comes to the availability of high-speed internet access.

"We must ensure that we maintain our pre-eminent position," said Ken Livingstone. "The capital's competitiveness will be undermined without the right technology and workforce with the right training."

Colin Jenkins, the mayor's e-business adviser who compiled the report, focused on studies undertaken by research group Ovum and telco watchdog Oftel.

The studies assessed both the number of high-speed lines per 1,000 people and the costs of broadband access. In each case the UK came out as the underdog.

"If [barriers to] broadband access are to be overcome, some form of intervention is required," said Jenkins in the report.

A second report is expected from the GLA later this year concentrating on the impact of e-business on the capital. It is expected to include measures to encourage the installation of the latest technology in new buildings.

"It is vital that London's public sector plays its part as a 'lead adopter' of new technologies," said Val Shawcross, e-envoy at the Mayor's office.

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