Telewest chief Adam Singer speaks of a need for a 'digital Lenin' to promote the broadband cause
Broadband operators BT, Telewest and NTL sought to dispel the growing doom and gloom about their sector this week, suggesting that 2002 could be a renaissance year for broadband technology if the government got its act together, writes Lucy Rouse

Speaking at the FT New Media & Broadcasting conference on Tuesday (5 March), Telewest chief executive Adam Singer, who last week claimed the Department for Culture, Media & Sport 'didn't get' broadband, said his company, with 107,000 broadband customers, had created a broadband infrastructure but needed the government to stimulate demand.

?Telewest, with others, can build this field of digital dreams but we need someone to come and play on it? We need a digital Lenin. Stop frittering with analogue switch-off and focus on what can be done to stimulate broadband demand.'

BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland reiterated the point saying: '[Broadband] is still a market characterised by two factors: a limited level of take-up and limited understanding.' He added that BT aimed to have 1 million broadband subscribers by next summer.

Meanwhile, NTL managing director Stephen Carter, who claimed 150,000 broadband subscribers, said he was 'singularly focused on the quality of our customer service', despite NTL's attempt to restructure and reduce its £12bn debts. Carter urged industry observers to 'bifurcate the operations and balance sheet'. 'The operating performance of the company on every measure was strong [this year],' he said, adding that full-year results would be announced next week.

Speaking at the conference on Monday (4 March), BBC director of new media and technology Ashley Highfield attacked suggestions that the demand for digital TV had peaked. 'Let's not forget that over one in three homes does have digital TV. That's a significant number for such a young industry,' he said.