A number of UK telecoms operators are meeting with the country’s Minister for Competition, Stephen Timms, on Monday, to discuss investments in faster broadband networks.

Timms is pressuring the operators to increase broadband speeds as the UK slips down the internet ‘league table’ in terms of availability and bandwidth.

Although more than half of UK homes have broadband, many other European operators are upgrading their networks to cope with faster speeds, putting the UK in danger of slipping into the internet slow lane.

BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB, Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse are among those companies attending the summit on Monday.

In September, Timms warned that while the UK has come a long way in the last five years, from being on a par with Croatia on broadband availability and use, the country now faces a new challenge.

“Other countries are starting to invest in new, fibre based infrastructure, delivering considerably higher bandwidth than is available in the UK today,” he said.

“I see it as one of my highest personal priorities that we have a high performance telecommunications infrastructure in every part of the country, enabling us to compete successfully on a global basis.”

Earlier this year, the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), a government advisory group, published a report highlighting the uncertainties associated with next generation broadband and warning that unless steps are taken by government, Ofcom and industry, the UK risks widening the digital divide and falling behind its global competitors.

Kip Meek, chairman of the BSG, said: “Other countries are investing in higher speed broadband and the UK isn’t. If we want to see the UK stay ahead amongst the international leaders in broadband, we must find a way to encourage timely and efficient investment.

“We’re not looking to government for all of the solutions, but we are looking for ministerial leadership. Communications infrastructure is a key enabler of competitiveness. The evolution of the UK’s broadband infrastructure must be prioritised by government.”