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UK risks lagging behind on gigabit rollout

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The UK risks falling behind major economies when it comes to its gigabit rollout according to research from strategic property consultancy Cluttons.

The research indicated that a slow rollout could hold back investment, performance, and jobs while stressing that connectivity was essential to propel the economy forward.

Clutton’s ‘Connecting the UK’ report, produced in association with YouGov encompassed the views of over 100 MPs, almost 2000 consumers, over 550 local councillors and over 100 IT decision makers.

It found that there was a significant lack of confidence and understanding in the Government’s rollout strategy with only 38% of MPs rating it as successful compared to other economies.

Additionally, only 34% of UK MPs are confident in meeting the target set out of 85% coverage by 2025, a figure that fell to 14% in London, 16% in Scotland and 24% in Wales.

John Gravett, partner at Cluttons, said: “Having the right level of connectivity across the UK is crucial for the Government’s levelling up agenda, as well as economic performance, jobs, skills and social equity.

“In our opinion, we estimate that we are three to five years behind this goal and our research raises concerns that we will fall further behind given the lack of confidence by MPs in delivering the targets set.

“Moreover, the lack of understanding of connectivity not just by consumers but in Government itself is very concerning and this could further hold back critical infrastructure development.”

Other challenges that could hamper the rollout according to the research included a lack of funding with over half of councillors disagreeing that their Local Authority had the funding it needs to prioritise the importance of digital connectivity in their area.

It also highlighted that Local Authorities that had digital strategies in place were more positive about connectivity in their local areas and four times more likely to say their local authority has an effective relationship with network operators.

Elsewhere in the research, a number of business and consumer barriers were cited as challenges to overcome for the roll-out.

Only a quarter (27%) of citizens believe that nationwide access to 5G and gigabit capable broadband will be beneficial to them.

Sophy Moffat, head of research at Cluttons, concluded: “There is a huge amount of work to be done to get the roll-out on track with Government targets and new, practical targets should be assessed.

“We believe it is crucial that the private sector collaborates with both local and central Government to develop strategies for overcoming the obstacles impacting the rollout.

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