With faster broadband currently high on the political agency, both telecoms regulator Ofcom and operator BT have questioned whether expensive fibre optic networks should be rolled-out just yet.
A summit, on the need for fast broadband to prevent UK businesses getting left behind by European competitors, was recently held by competitiveness minister, Mr Stephen Timms.
France and Germany are already rolling out fibre networks capable of speeds of up to 100Mbps.
MPs have also recently held an eForum to debate the need for next-generation networks, which would cost up to £15bn to roll out across the UK.
Ofcom, which is carrying out its own study into next generation broadband, has cautioned that there is as yet no significant evidence that next generation broadband is needed in the UK.
Justin Paul, a development manager at telecoms equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent, has expressed concern that a faster network might not be able to repay the high cost required to deploy the infrastructure.
There is also considerable uncertainty that consumers would be willing to pay more for faster broadband.
While the fibre network debate continues, Virgin is upgrading its cable network to provide 50Mbps speeds by the end of 2008. Virgin’s network is available to over half the UK population.
Virgin’s investment is part of its plan to place broadband at the centre of its business strategy.