Why we need to innovate to achieve broadband for all

Posted by Karen on Oct 15, 2015 12:00:00 AM
The UK Government wants 95% of the country connected to super-fast broadband by 2017, but as demonstrated by the House of Commons debate on 12th October, many areas of the country continue to have issues receiving a reliable, and fast, internet connection. “Hon. Members reading the Order Paper could be forgiven for thinking that this debate is about the roll-out of superfast broadband across the UK, but it is about much more than that. It is about making sure that the farmer in my constituency who needs to communicate with DEFRA can do so without driving miles to a nearby town. It is about making sure that he can grow his business and employ more people.” Matt Warman MP (Boston and Skegness) The Government has contracted BT to do the work, but some are now calling for Openreach (the part of BT that builds and maintains the network) to be sold off. By continuing to use its traditional copper wire connections between the cabinet and premises, BT is reducing the effective potential of high-speed broadband. The result is a slower speed and frustrated customers.

Urban / rural divide

While the roll-out of rural broadband remains a significant issue, major cities, like London, still suffer from slow internet speeds. These days, businesses aren’t just competing with local firms; they’re pitching on a global level. If a firm based in Dublin has no problems with video conference calls or uploading large files to the potential client, but a rival in London takes a great deal longer, it impacts the perception of the firm.

But again, businesses based in rural areas usually have more to contend with, as Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood, stated during the debate: “Does he recognise the frustration of my constituents and his when they hear discussion about the difference between superfast broadband and broadband when my constituents are on dial-up and can get only a very small document downloaded in an hour?”

Innovation, not tradition

For the Government to not just hit its 95% target, but to see to it that every community has the opportunity to connect to high-speed broadband, it needs to embrace innovation. Communities across the UK are receiving broadband services via satellite, over power lines, and over cable connections and Wi-Fi. The industry doesn’t need to rely on BT’s old copper phone lines, and the Government doesn’t need to depend on BT. To truly innovate, the Government needs to look to the future, not stick with what it knows.

Related: Find out how Wensleydale Creamery improved their bandwidth and reliability for both sites in an isolated part of Yorkshire
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