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The inability to quantify the extent of public demand for next-generation broadband could slow up the emergence of a high-speed fibre-optic network in the UK, according to one senior industry figure.

Roger Darlington, a member of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, has suggested that providers thinking of investing in super-fast networks could be reluctant to make outlays until they are certain that enough internet users would like the service.

He commented: "Demand is often the part of the debate left neglected. The reason is that it's very hard to quantify. There's almost a kind of blame game going on - if the consumer would prove to [the communications industry] that they would use these services that [the communications industry] would provide.

Adding: "The whole history of communications is [riddled] with an inability to indicate in advance precise demand."

The source of the funding for the estimated £15 billion cost of deploying next generation broadband was recently discussed at the Westminster eForum keynote seminar: Next Generation Broadband.

Also on the agenda was the question of whether to holdback on next-generation services until basic broadband services have been provided to unconnected rural areas.

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