A plodding pace of expansion and use of proprietary wireless technology may spell trouble for PCCW in Britain's fast-moving broadband market. PCCW needs to hasten the launch of services by subsidiary UK Broadband and break out of its wireless access strategy or be left behind, analysts say. They said UK Broadband's Netvigator service, with more than 4,000 subscribers since its launch in the Thames Valley, west of London, last year, was slow to challenge the aggressive campaigns of fixed-line network giant British Telecom (BT) and broadband cable operators Telewest and NTL. 'BT is moving very quickly in Britain,' said Andrew Chetham, analyst at research company Gartner. 'I believe that the window of opportunity is closing for PCCW, which should have been there a year earlier.' BT dominates the country's broadband market. The company had a market share of about 24 per cent last year. Its broadband network is based on digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, which delivers high-speed internet access over the telephone system. The combined shares of Telewest and NTL totalled about 34 per cent. The rest is divided between DSL service resellers such as AOL, Tiscali and Wanadoo. UK Broadband, which acquired a nationwide footprint of licences auctioned in Britain in 2003, hoped to move within striking distance through a fresh marketing campaign this summer, backed by a US$50 million network expansion plan. But analysts have expressed doubts about the company's use of technology from United States-based IPWireless to offer subscribers bundled high-speed data, voice and additional value-added services over a wireless broadband link. This service comes with an initial choice of 512 kilobits per second or one megabit per second connection, enabling subscribers to access the internet from home, work, a hotel room or other locations. Gartner analyst Robin Simpson said it would be difficult for IPWireless to compete against the WiMAX networking standard, which is expected to deployed widely and can deliver up to 70Mbps mobile broadband connection at distances of up to 48km. 'Also, WiMAX base stations and consumer equipment would be quite cheap even at the early stage of this market's development,' Mr Simpson said. He said the spectrum licences secured by UK Broadband could be used for WiMAX and it would be no surprise if PCCW also decided to deploy WiMAX in addition to its IPWireless platform. Unfazed by analysts' scepticism, UK Broadband senior vice-president for sales and marketing Keith Hawkins said the company planned to build up its Netvigator services portfolio by adding a voice service over wireless broadband that could replace subscribers' landlines. Broadband penetration in Britain stands at 22 per cent of all households, which means there is plenty of room to grow for network operators. Market penetration is expected to reach 65 per cent by 2014. By comparison, broadband penetration in Hong Kong hit 62 per cent last January.