Broadband News

A fully full fibre'd UK would boost economy by £60 billion

Finding close to £1,700 under the cushions on your sofa over the course of a year is obviously very different to a £1,700 per worker productivity boost for the UK economy from a full fibre'd United Kingdom but it does help illustrate the scale of the benefits.

Openreach has commissioned a report looking into the impact of full fibre on the economy and what we all do, with the report delivered by the Centre for Economics & Business Research. The headline grabbers that you will see all over the place today are:

  • £60 billion boost to the economy with a 100% full fibre UK if done by 2025
  • Average £1,700 productivity boost per worker
  • At least 400,000 more people who could work from home
  • 270,000 people who could move out of cities, stimulating rural economies
  • 300 million communiting trips could be saved, equating to 3 billion kilometres of car journeys

The list goes on, though for all those of us who have been working at home for years you may be left wondering how we have managed it, particularly in the dark days when 2 Mbps ADSL was the fastest affordable connection you could get to a home, but this speed would let you remote to servers abroad to install and configure software without the need to get on a plane.

The superfast roll-outs made a big difference to home working, but then so has the rise of co-working tools.so it will be interesting to see what changes once full fibre reaches critical mass in different regions of the UK. We believe based on the changes seen since 2000 in the broadband landscape that the benefits really kick in once availability reaches 75% in an area.

The Openreach commissioned report is one of the campaign tools to try and point out to the politicians and advisors behind the Governments 100% Gigabit (or is it full fibre) for 2025 target. The three big changes that Openreach would like to see are:

  • An exemption from business rates in order to stimulate more investment.
  • Government action to lower costs and reduce barriers to deployment
  • The regulator setting the right conditions to unlock the commercial case for companies to build across most of the UK

Other full fibre operators will have additions or tweaks to the wording of these three proposals, but the broad stroke effect means that the first two will have almost everyone backing them, on the third point what might be the right conditions for Openreach might not be the same for others and we are thinking the rental fees for access to Openreach ducts and poles. There is an Openreach web page if you have time to read more at https://www.openreach.com/full-fibre-impact

One massive reality from all the studies on economic benefits of broadband improvements is that those actually building the new networks generally don't see any big benefit, i.e. the revenue stream from broadband subscriptions is likely to remain largely the same. Of course if a single company sticks with the old technologies it will find its customer base stagnating and shrinking.

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