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Could Spam Stall Broadband Britain?
28 October 2003

The push towards Broadband Britain is in danger of being derailed, according to new research published today by the UK Government's central advisory body on broadband.

The year-long study by the Work Foundation and funded by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) highlights the general public's experiences of surfing the web is being spoiled by seedier elements of the internet, including spam, pornography, pop-up adverts, viruses and spyware. In fact, ordinary people with few surfing or computer skills are likely to spend much of their time online coping with these problems and as a result are frequently put off from using the internet.

The onus, according to report co-author James Crabtree is very much on the broadband providers and telecom companies: "Broadband is vital for Britain's future, but the industry must put itself in its customer's shoes and see how this tide of rubbish is beginning to ruin the experience of going online", he comments. The focus must be on providing inexperienced surfers with support rather than developing rich media content to hook users. In a time when the number of high-speed internet connections is beginning to stall, providing support to new users on how to get the best out of the web is key to driving take up. Report co-author Simon Roberts also notes: "Consumers are crying out for support, and all they get is hours on hold with the 'helpdesk'. Telecom companies must get better at helping people install broadband, and also find ways to help them explore and enjoy its possibilities."

The report - Fat Pipes, Connected People - will be launched at the BSG's annual conference in London opening today and ending on Wednesday.

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