British minister looks at Canadian broadband model initiative program

Canada and the UK are running neck-and-neck in terms of e-business and broadband development, according to British Minister of State for E-commerce and Competitiveness Stephen Timms.

Timms was in Toronto recently to discuss e-commerce and broadband programs and policy with Canadian companies and academia; earlier in the same week he met with Industry Minister Allan Rock in Ottawa to compare e-commerce and broadband governmental strategies.

Broadband is a key ingredient to creating a thriving environment for e-commerce and innovation, Timms said, adding that the UK has made good progress in getting enterprises to participate in e-commerce.

Timms said he’s particularly impressed with Canada’s level of broadband adoption and its commitment to connecting remote areas. Compared to Canada’s 80 per cent, he estimated that two-thirds of UK households are within reach of affordable broadband use.

In terms of developing e-commerce, Timms noted that the UK is second in the world behind the U.S. and slightly ahead of Canada.

“A number of years ago we set a target to have over one million small enterprises trading online and we’ve exceeded that target,” Timms said.

Timms said the UK is introducing a new communications bill that will amalgamate telecommunications and broadband regulatory organizations and is working on getting more government services online. In addition, his government is looking at increasing the role of universities in developing IT skills to boost e-business development, he said.