UK broadband plans unlikely to have expected economic impact

30 October 2012 |


The UK’s superfast broadband plans are unlikely to have the immediate impact on the economy that has been predicted, according to a report released today.

The findings suggest that while superfast broadband will have a long-term impact on the UK economy, the shorter term impact is likely to be less pronounced than the transition from dial-up to broadband connections.

Several obstacles were also anticipated to affect the impact of superfast broadband in the country including a shortage of digital skills across many industries and antiquated working practices and business processes.

The report titled 'Superfast Britain? Myths and realities about the UK’s broadband future' was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Chinese vendor Huawei.

Its findings cast doubt on the lauded benefits of superfast broadband to the UK economy which have been touted by the country’s government.

The report’s release is also particularly timely with UK operator Everything Everywhere due to switch on the country’s first LTE network today.

"The advent of superfast broadband is certainly an opportunity to boost the UK's long-term competitiveness; however, it may not have the immediate impact on the economy that has been predicted in some quarters," said Denis McCauley of the Economist Intelligence Unit and editor of the report.

"For many of the anticipated benefits, it is less of a case of the pipe needing to change and more that of established systems, working practices and skills needing to evolve if high-speed data connections are to be utilised to their full potential."

The UK has allocated nearly £1 billion in state funding in a bid to develop the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015, with national speeds of at least 24Mbps.

Telcos including BT and Virgin Media have also committed to improving the country’s infrastructure and are engaged in their own extensive fibre roll-outs.

The report concludes that while the roll-out of superfast broadband will undoubtedly benefit the UK economy, its benefits won’t be immediately obvious outside of the short-term boost provided by infrastructure and related engineering projects.