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Initial demand for super-fast broadband in the UK gives "cause for optimism and confidence", it has been claimed.

In a new report, the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) describes the UK as a solid mid-table performer in Europe" when it comes to next-generation broadband.

The advisory body says the UK is gaining on leaders such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and outperforming major rivals such as France, Germany and Spain.

"Comparatively the US is experiencing a relatively low percentage of consumers actually choosing a super-fast broadband service," the BSG stated.

"And looking east to Asia, the initial growth curve for super-fast broadband take-up in the UK compares favourably to that of Japan’s when super-fast services were first offered in that market."

The group identified a challenge in enticing consumers to pay more for a super-fast service, particularly if good quality ADSL and legacy cable services are available to them and satisfy their current needs. 

Policy makers have to be realistic in their expectations for initial demand for super-fast broadband, the group stated.

"Experience across all markets, including the broadband trailblazers of the Far East, shows that demand will build gradually. In this context there is no need for concern about how the UK is faring," it added.

"If the UK can harness both its creative and technological potential as well as the progress it has made to date in driving take-up of super-fast broadband, there could be a great opportunity to lead the way in service innovation."

This could build demand for next-generation services while contributing to economic growth in a broader sense, the report claimed.

Pamela Learmonth, Chief Executive of the BSG, said the UK has made "a solid start" on its next generation journey but, as in all markets, no one has a crystal ball to predict how this will evolve.

She claimed the most important factor in evaluating broadband is usage - how are people using broadband and what benefits result from this?

"If we are working towards having the best broadband in Europe by 2015 it is these demand side issues that are as important as concerns over infrastructure," Ms Learmonth stated.

"In publishing this report we hope that we can engender greater debate and interest in demand side issues so that the UK can reap the greatest benefits from investment in improving broadband networks."

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