The potential of gigabit broadband

The potential of gigabit broadband

Gigabit speed broadband has the potential to add a possible $50 billion to the British economy over the course of the next 5 years.

Despite the UK making steady progress over the last 5 years in its attempt to deliver full-fibre connectivity to homes around the country, it still falls behind other European leaders. Accessing cash to find the launching of these services and also 5G, is difficult to balance. The legislative agenda for this, is an area that needs to be addressed and prioritized.

 “Access to reliable, future-proof digital infrastructure for all, isn’t a luxury, but now accepted as a necessity whether it’s used for work, education or play,” said Matthew Howett, Founder of Assembly Research. “Increasing investment in key digital infrastructure will provide the bounce-back and economic recovery the UK will desperately need in the months and years ahead.”

The UK could be somewhat of a frontrunner in the race for 5G implementation, however it could also be hindered by its lagging broadband infrastructure. The FTTH council Europe says that the UK has provided fibre connectivity to 15.1% of homes in the country, this is massively behind countries like France (57.1%), Spain (85.6%) and Iceland (96.7%). The UK also has problems in selling fibre connectivity. As it stands only 2.8% of UK households currently have a fibre connectivity contract.

This could be viewed as the polar opposite to 5G progress, as the UK was one of the first countries worldwide where all major MNOs had launched a 5G service, and deployment has been progressing very well.

Broadband is a very important aspect of the Gigabit economy however, which explains the brash commitment by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in committing to a 2025 deadline for ubiquitous full-fiber coverage across the country. Although this acceleration is still laughable, there are a few areas of UK Government policy which could be addressed according to Assembly Research.

  1. Ensure sufficient funding exists for non-commercial areas if the whole country is to be covered and nobody is to be left behind.
  2. A commitment to a technology-neutral approach to reach the hardest parts of the country on time and in a cost-effective way.
  3. Supporting market entry and expansion by alternative network operators, but recognizing competition will vary by geography.
  4. Making the cost of deployment as low as possible by addressing remaining barriers, which both increase costs and cause delays.
  5. Ensure the demand side is given more attention, to encourage take-up and help lower investment risk.

What is important to note here is the technology-neutral approach to deploying the Gigabit economy. This is a key consideration, while fixed wireless access (FWA), the means to deliver broadband wirelessly, will not replace broadband, there are use cases for deployment in the rural environment.

The issue with Government targets in the past, is that they are technology-orientated not outcome-orientated. There is a valid argument that everyone will need gigabit speed connections at some point in the future, but it does not have to be delivered via fibre. It should be delivered in a cost-responsible manner which guarantees service quality, but this does not necessarily mean fixed broadband. A fixation on single technologies presents a problem, as it does not offer flexibility for companies who are under financial strain.