Telewest optimistic on broadband

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The Independent Online

Telewest, the number two UK cable group, said Britain could catch upother countries in the first stage of rolling out high speed internet services.

Charles Burdick, the finance director, said: "Between ourselves and NTL we have the capacity to deliver broadband services to half the UK. Cable modems are a cost effective way of reaching the public, schools and business." He added: "I don't think (Britain) is woefully behind," commenting on figures that show Britain lagging most countries in rolling out high speed internet access. "Opening up BT's local loop has been a disappointment but that will change."

Patricia Hewitt, the e-commerce minister, said last week that public sector investment in broadband will be substantially higher than the published estimate of £500m over three years. To date ministers have committed only £30m to direct subsidies for expansion.

Mr Burdick's remarks coincided with Telewest announcing a rise in first quarter pre-tax losses to £209m from £137m a year earlier, due mainly to higher interest charges and the goodwill cost related to the acquisition of Flextech. Revenue rose by a third to £321m. Telewest shares fell 3.5p to 119.5p.