In today’s world, businesses must be on top of their game and available 24/7 to meet consumer demands. Thanks to advances in technology and broadband connectivity, this is now possible. Unfortunately, UK businesses are falling behind in the connectivity race. According to a recent report, Britain has dropped from 50th to 56th place for fixed-line broadband speeds for businesses. This is particularly troubling for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas, where 39% receive download speeds of lower than 10MBPS, despite paying high prices for the service.
The problem began in 1982 when British Telecom was privatised, resulting in it becoming a privatised monopoly of UK telecommunications infrastructure overnight. Several attempts were made to introduce competition to the market, with Openreach finally established in 2005. The establishment of Openreach was intended to enable third-party providers to access the infrastructure. However, with Openreach responsible for the speed of the network, businesses have little choice in terms of broadband providers and are often at their mercy.
The infrastructure of the UK’s cities, towns, and villages presents a further problem, with many developed decades or even centuries ago before the advent of modern technology. Upgrades, when possible, are costly and disruptive. Even newer developments have demonstrated a lack of foresight, with little appreciation given to the growth of bandwidth requirements over time. This has led to slow and poor-quality service for businesses, which is inconvenient.
Thankfully, there are solutions. The UK government has pledged £5 billion to provide the 20% of the country that is underserved by high-speed broadband with gigabit broadband. By 2025, the government aims to supply a minimum of 85% of premises with gigabit broadband and achieve 100% by 2030. Openreach is also building its full-fibre network, with gigabit broadband already available to 43,000 homes and businesses every week. Prices are expected to decrease as high-speed broadband becomes more widely available.
Mobile broadband quality and speed have also improved significantly. The UK now ranks as the 26th fastest mobile data speed, ahead of countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, and Japan. With 5G becoming the new connectivity of choice, the UK is in a strong position moving forward. Investing in 5G will result in faster available internet speeds, and upgrading will be easy.
In conclusion, while UK businesses have fallen behind in the connectivity race, solutions are available. The UK government’s pledge, Openreach’s full-fibre network, and improving mobile broadband quality and speed are all positive developments. By capitalising on these opportunities, UK businesses across the country can receive the high-speed broadband they require and deserve.