Coordinated action is vital to meeting the Gigabit Britain network deployment goals

While upgrading the UK’s gigabit infrastructure is essential to achieving post-Covid-19 growth and ‘leveling off’, meeting the UK government’s 85% coverage target at 85%, an EY report warns, would require the ‘current UK average house building rate’. approved, ”the rate at which properties are enabled on gigabit-capable networks, will increase by 85%, the equivalent of more than 10,000 homes per day.

The report includes the results of a survey of 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and shows that UK companies support the allocation of funds to digital infrastructure. It outlines coordinated actions for government, regulators, and service providers to work together to unlock Gigabit Britain.

Yet despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledging in his 2020 Spending Review to build a ‘stronger future’ and transform the country’s communications infrastructure, the government’s previous ambitious £ 5 billion plan for coverage of Gigabit broadband in the UK has now waned and investment levels are down.

Announced at the same time as the spending review, the National Infrastructure Strategy revealed, much to the chagrin of UK broadband providers and commercial bodies, that the government’s previous goal of establishing gigabit broadband nationwide had been reversed. The key changes are that the goal has changed from “gigabit broadband for all homes” by 2025 to “minimum coverage of 85%” by 2025.

The plan’s budget remains at the £ 5bn set as a stated commitment by the UK government a year ago, but only £ 1.2bn of that sum will be available until 2024.

EY report, Restart or level up. How can gigabit britain deliver for everyone?, found that half of those surveyed believe that investment in gigabit connectivity is vital to the economic development of their region after Covid-19, and 48% added that gigabit connectivity would drive their business innovation. More than half (52%) said that digital infrastructure was more important to them than physical infrastructure, with only 17% disagreeing.

However, EY found that even meeting the revised target would assume that fiber to the premises (FTTP) would deliver the majority of new gigabit capable connections going forward in the UK. He noted that boosting demand for gigabit services and preventing a return to a boom-and-bust era for UK telcos will require several urgent actions to address critical barriers to user adoption.

These actions included creating better gigabit awareness so that industry and regulators could work together to standardize fiber terminology and eliminate confusion for customers; create better value propositions to stimulate gigabit broadband upgrade intentions and articulate what gigabit broadband can actually deliver; ensure that change is easier; and enable alternative routes for customers to upgrade.

In a call to action, EY said that over the coming months and years, supporting the UK’s ambition to bridge the digital divide and ‘rebuild better’ from Covid-19 will be one of the most critical tasks facing the government. and companies. He said now is the time for everyone to come together to ensure that Gigabit Britain is for everyone.

“While the revised timeline is more realistic, the risk of being left behind is greater than ever for the remaining 15% of the population,” said Praveen Shankar, EY UK Director of Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT). Ireland. “The lack of high-quality digital infrastructure in the regions will limit the opportunity to rebalance and grow the UK economy in the coming years. Without equal opportunities to access digital technology, long-term innovation and social cohesion to support the long-term ‘leveling’ agenda in the UK will suffer.

“Urgent improvements to the UK’s digital infrastructure are not only essential for businesses to grow and prosper, they are also necessary to ensure long-term national competitiveness. Without significant attention to gigabit infrastructure, the UK risks lagging further behind its European neighbors’.

To deliver the promised British Gigabit, broadband providers needed to underscore the benefits of gigabit for businesses and consumers alike – clear terminology and a simple promise to the customer can help drive demand, added Adrian Baschnonga, global lead analyst. of telecommunications in EY.

“Supply-side improvements are also essential, from optimizing planning and access rules to building stronger wholesale relationships within the industry,” he noted. “Fundamentally, the industry must recognize that this is a shared opportunity where proactivity and sustained collaboration are critical to success. Only by isolating key challenges and taking urgent action to solve them will the UK be able to achieve its long-term digital infrastructure ambitions and unlock high-quality infrastructure for all users. ‘

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