How has the promise of 100Mbps ultrafast broadband and investment for the IoT in the Budget gone down with the industry?
There were a number of announcements in the Chancellor’s budget that might interest the technology industry, but the promise of 100Mbps broadband and a pledge to support IoT and smart city research were the ones that made the headlines.
George Osborne says that faster broadband is a prerequisite for a number of technological innovations set to happen in the UK during the next parliament, but what did the industry make of this year’s budget?
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch
“The proposals are an important step towards making broadband, now regarded as an essential service, available to all, rather than most.
“Some people in the furthest reaches of the UK are being left behind in the race for a digital Britain. They are missing out on the advantages that a reliable internet connection brings, including all the cheaper services and deals found online.
“Further steps could still be taken to make the availability and benefits of superfast and ultrafast broadband clear, so that everyone in the UK has both the ability and the confidence to get online.
“If the Government’s plan is to succeed in the hardest to reach areas, broadband needs to be affordable, especially for those who are isolated or vulnerable.”
“Despite some positive initiatives outlined in the Budget to support digital infrastructure, Government has again failed to outline clear policies to tackle the UK’s biggest connectivity issue – the underlying reasons why parts of rural Britain suffer from poor mobile coverage. It is critical that the next Government revises business rates and reforms the archaic Electronic Communications Code to support the rollout of mobile coverage and wireless broadband in rural areas.”
Morgan Mullolly, telecoms analyst at Analysys Mason
“It is encouraging to see the British government continue taking proactive steps in the area of IoT – specifically Smart Cities. Throughout the next decade, many cities in Britain are threatened with suffering from decaying infrastructure, poor quality of life and will struggle to meet sustainability objectivise. Not to make it seem like British cities are fraying on all fronts, but proper investment now in the telecoms, ICT and start-ups ecosystem underlying the smart cities concept will have many positive knock-on effects for Britain’s city dwellers in the future.
“Large blue-chip ICT equipment vendors such as Cisco Systems and IBM have been the chief, early proponents of the smart cities concept, but Britain has its own share of indigenous companies that have been playing in this space for some time, such as Telensa (Essex based smart street lighting and parking) and others. Research institutions in the UK, such as Surry University & the University of Strathclyde, have also been playing leading roles in the development of the next generation wireless technologies such as 5G and LPWA (Low Power Wide Area networks for machine type communication) that will provide connectivity for IoT applications in Smart Cities in the future.
“It will be interesting to see how the funds get allocated and it is important that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.”
Julian David, Techuk CEO
“Today’s Budget announcement demonstrates that tech is essential for ensuring the UK’s long-term economic success. The smart use of tech is fundamental for balancing the books, increasing productivity, creating new jobs and including and empowering people across the UK.
“By investing in infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurship the government is driving growth, not just in tech, but across the whole UK economy. Combined with continued ambition for digital government, today’s package strengthens the UK’s position as a leading global digital economy.
“The UK is well placed to be a global leader in the development of the Internet of Things and the announcement of the £40 million investment will help accelerate the development of new innovative solutions for health, social care and smart cities.”
“If the UK’s communication infrastructure is to remain globally competitive for the long term, it is vital we have a bold vision for the future. Today’s ‘moonshot’ announcement is exactly that and will focus the minds of Industry, policy makers and regulators to think about how we can deliver ultrafast as widely as possible across the UK.
“Today’s announcement has put further momentum behind the digitalisation of public services, both at a central and local level. This will be vital for meeting the Chancellor’s targets for efficiency savings as well as building world-class public services around the needs of the citizen.”
Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre
“The announcement today that the government will give further support to broadband underpins the importance of digital infrastructure to the UK economy. For too long, businesses across the country have struggled to grow and compete, suffocated by combination of both access infrastructure and lack of bandwidth. All the evidence shows that high-speed digital connectivity is essential to the success of a country.
“We welcome also the government’s ambition for ultrafast broadband, encouraging investment in faster connectivity to homes and businesses nationwide. However the target of at least 100 megabits per second is too low. As the British economy becomes more digitally based, it is vital that even faster Gigabit speeds are achieved.”
“In infrastructure terms, the UK communications market is under performing, with one of the lowest shares of fibre-connected buildings in Europe, a result of a decade of underinvestment by BT. Investment in fibre infrastructure is critical for sustainable economic growth and future prosperity. Therefore, it is vital the government does all it can to encourage a competitive environment for fibre investment.”