You’ve hopefully heard whisperings already but in case you haven’t, here it is! We’ve sent a letter to Government, calling on them to accelerate the rollout of full-fibre broadband across the UK in its National Infrastructure Strategy.
To get behind this incredibly important cause and join many other businesses, you can show your support here!
The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed an inadequacy in the UK’s critical national infrastructure. A transition away from office-based working has led to increasing pressure on the way in which businesses and individuals operate and this is only likely to persist. This is why we are writing to you as SME representatives from a number of industries to urge the Government to consider expediting the rollout of full-fibre broadband, in order to ensure the economy can fully recover from the impact of coronavirus.
Full-Fibre connections are the technology of the future and we are pleased to see this as a priority for the Government. However, whilst we welcome the Government’s commitment to the roll-out of full-fibre broadband and investment in critical national infrastructure, we are concerned that this technology may be deployed too late and pledges are not being backed up by action.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already redressed our world to an extent that was once unimaginable. This is a pattern which is likely to continue in the long term, with surveying predicting that the number of employees regularly working from home will double. This will undeniably place pressure on the UK’s copper based broadband network, ultimately resulting in demand outstripping data capacity. In a study of the UK’s network capabilities, OFCOM noted that the crossover point wherein total data demand would exceed the abilities of the network would arrive in the next decade, chiefly due to the proliferation of smarter devices, homes, businesses and infrastructure reliant on an internet connection. This assessment was made prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated transition to working from home, and this will only bring forward the date on which demand outstrips capacity.
Internet connectivity is a critical utility to almost every sector and industry, enabling workers to access information or work documents, or to keep in contact with their colleagues remotely via videoconferencing solutions like PowWowNow, Zoom or Teams. In fact, research suggests that 60% of SMEs based in the capital value “high broadband speed and quality” as more critical to their business operations than a fully functioning supply chain.
However, the UK’s copper-based network leaves millions at risk of slower connections that are less reliable and have a greater likelihood of network dropout. These inadequacies will also disproportionately impact SMEs, the driving force of our economy with a recent study highlighting that over a third of SMEs are not able to fully transition their business to an online model. We have grave concerns that the lack of provision of FTTP broadband across the UK could disproportionately prevent SME’s from thriving post-Covid.
To prevent this, we are calling on you to commit to ensuring that 100% of the nation has accessibility to full-fibre ultrafast broadband as part of your forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy. Not only can full-fibre broadband offer speeds hundreds of times faster than the older services with greater capacities, it has five times fewer faults than copper based broadband systems, and has been estimated to save £5bn in operating costs over the next 30 years. Further, rural areas and ‘not-spots’, many of which already suffer in terms of digital connectivity, must not be forgotten about, and the Government must provide funding for infrastructural improvements in areas where a commercial case cannot be found. By doing this, not only will some of the most disproportionately impacted communities be given a digital lifeline but it can play a vital role in delivering the Government’s levelling up agenda.
The UK’s future prosperity will be contingent on fully operational national infrastructure, and we must make investments now to ensure that we do not impede our future. Inaction is not an option.
We look forward to discussing this further with your officials.
If you agree with the cause and would like better connectivity across the UK, show your support here.