digging2The outgoing boss of O2 has warned the UK to adopt a far more visionary approach to its internet strategy, or risk getting left behind.

Another traffic jam and this time BT engineers digging holes in the ground. It feels rather 20th century, doesn’t it? Engineers, equipped with a shovel, no matter how high-tech, digging holes and laying down wires in order that we can enjoy the latest apps, driverless cars, smart cities, not to mention, the wider, more generic, internet of things.

According to Ronan Dunne, who until Friday was the boss of O2, but is now head of US company Verizon Wireless, when the TV was first launched it was a lot like radio in front of the camera. And it’s a lot like that now, but with the internet. . . well, let Mr Dunne explain.

He told the FT: “The first 10 years of television, radio was in front of the camera. That’s exactly where we are in this digital revolution. People are adapting the technology to do what they’ve always done. The real opportunity is from ground up to re-envisage what the experience should be, what the process should be — that will be the step change.”

Mr Dunne thinks that the UK’s internet strategy is too much like old thinking, that we need to be bolder. He gave as an example the Google (Alphabet) approach of spreading internet access via wireless technology, arguing that this is more akin to the approach that the UK needs to take. He said: “We need to have policies about that reality, not that simply tinker and iterate analogue policy.”

He accused the UK of analogue thinking. He said: “In the longer term, we will forget this stupid debate about rolling out fibre cables. . . The UK taxpayers have to pay BT for digging holes in the ground which doesn’t make a lot of sense in this day and age.”