AA President suggests more should be spent on broadband
More money pouring into broadband to help with home working is something the broaband industry is very likely to welcome and those struggling with a poor connection will obviously welcome. The AA President has been quoted in various media outlets talking about the longer term impact of the pandemic and how important broadband has suddenly become.
Arguably in future, we should invest more in broadband because what this current crisis has shown is that the majority of companies can continue working from home, and it can be more efficient.AA President Edmund King
The Governments target is 100% Gigabit coverage by the end of 2025 and these speeds should be a lot more than the vast majority will need for home working even in 2025. £5 billion of public money has been set aside to ensure a Gigabit service is made available to the 20% of properties that the Government believes commercial operators will not reach with their own money. The impact of the pandemic on this target is difficult to quantify since building work is carrying on, but what has slowed down is the hooking up of people to the services.
For many years now, a spell of bad weather and people working from home for a day or two triggers coverage that broadband will mean millions working from home in the future and while a small number do switch to home working each year, the pandemic has kick started a massive experiment.
Obviously the Governments focus will be on reducing the health impact of the pandemic and our feeling is that is if the pandemic is brought under control swiftly life and work travel will return to the same levels as in the past. The real difference will be if the pandemic results in a lockdown period of several months and working from home becomes engrained as opposed to daily commute in a tin box on your own or crammed on public transport. Add to this whether home grocery shopping services scale up to handle the demand and we could see the big out of town supermarkets transform.
Diverting public spending from road building to alleviate congestion to broadband would probably not bring the 2025 target date closer, where it would be better spent is helping support firms and people in working from home e.g. encouraging take-up of what is available, tax breaks for firms which encourages home working, support for the extra costs of heating being at home all week can incur, support for small firms in terms of IT support.
We suspect that lots of households looking out of the window of their front room will be thinking about the expensive lease deals they have on a vehicle that is currently only making a once a week trip to the supermarket. Also homes with 2 or 3 cars might be considering ditching one vehicle to save money on tax, insurance and maintenance.