Digital Britain could become key element of recovery


Digital Britain could become key element of recovery

Alex Scroxton

The managing director of TalkTalk's b-2-b division Opal, Paul Lawton, has called for the new government to assess the direction of the Digital Britain project and make strategic changes to it, saying it could become a key element of the fragile economic recovery.

"We're looking forward to a Digital Britain strategy that's founded on the potential to generate economic growth, as under the previous government it had been more focused on the residential and consumer experience," Lawton told MicroScope. "The Conservatives have an opportunity to take the initiative around Digital Britain for business users."

Opal has long been outspoken in its views of both the Digital Britain project begun under Labour and the competitive landscape.

Lawton stressed that more needed to be done to create a level playing field between the ISP community and incumbent BT and make Opal a more "natural competitor" to its big rival through strategic partnerships with comms resellers.

He said that Opal's competitors were either largely absent from the channel, or pursuing a somewhat "schizophrenic" strategy towards the dealer community.

Following the split in its parent company earlier this year that saw ISP TalkTalk and high street retailer Carphone Warehouse go their separate ways, Lawton said Opal has flourished.

"It has enabled us to simplify our business and we have become more focused as a pure communications company, rather than a hybrid," Lawton said.

In the fiscal year just ended the unit grew sales 10.5% to £327m, with revenues boosted by growing broadband and data sales and the acquisition of Tiscali's business customers.

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