Tuesday 29 December 2020 1:00 pm

A booming Britain will need a broadband boost, too

Greg Mesch is Founder and Chief Executive of CityFibre

The best possible platform from which to launch the UK into its post-Brexit future outside the European Union is world class digital infrastructure.  

Only underpinned by the fastest Full Fibre networks will the UK be able to establish itself as a leading digital economy. Full Fibre will enable us to compete with countries and companies across the world, not just those on our own doorstep.

What better way can there be for a country to succeed than to equip every man, woman and child in every corner of the land with the world’s best digital infrastructure? Providing access for all, no matter which part of the country you are in, to lightning-quick, reliable, broadband. And not just in our homes, but in our offices, our hospitals and our schools. 

Read more: Tech can be the engine at the heart of our economic growth

It is a long-term investment in our future – one that can, and should, be a key pillar of the levelling up agenda. It is an investment that has the ability to transform the way we live, learn and work.

Imagine what reliable gigabit speed digital connectivity could do for those left behind communities across the UK. It can act as a catalyst for huge, positive change. Let’s recognise its potential to create not just new jobs but even new industries, supporting livelihoods and unleashing innovations in health and social care. 

The world is changing fast. We are taking enormous leaps forward in how we use technology to access key services such as education and medical care.  We need to make absolutely sure we have the infrastructure in place to underpin this. We must be ready to take advantage of these opportunities if we are to avoid being left behind.

We are unapologetically passionate about this. Why? You only need to reflect on how reliant we have all been on digital connectivity this year. As the physical has been replaced with the virtual, we have all become acutely aware of just how important and necessary reliable digital connections really are. This has never been more important. A lack of reliability is not just an inconvenience – it can severely impact our ability to work, to communicate and to use vital services. 

We already live in a digital world. So, some people will look at what we already have in place and will ask: “Do we really need full fibre?”

The answer is that Full Fibre is about so much more than better broadband. It is about world-class infrastructure that we can rely on to transmit the unimaginable quantities of data demanded by every device, system, and service that makes up the modern age. 

It’s about ensuring that these networks have the capacity, speed, reliability and self-healing capabilities from which we can take confidence that our digital foundations are a rock-solid platform on which to build.

Full fibre is the modern-day equivalent of the invention of the railway. People functioned perfectly well without it. But the railway made the impossible, possible. It was a platform for growth in ways that were unknowable until it was there. Full fibre is that platform for our generation, one on which the unforeseeable will become reality, for the good of us all.

Read more: Tech jobs boom as sector recovers post-pandemic

As CityFibre reaches its 10th anniversary, we have every reason to be optimistic about this future. For most of that decade, the country has struggled to grasp the scale of the Full Fibre opportunity and the positive change that it can enable. Now, though, we are in a race to deploy Full Fibre as quickly as possible. The good news is that we are already well on our way.

Long fought-for infrastructure competition is at the heart of this success. We have a government and a regulator that is committed to supporting investment and protecting competition, and that is crucial. Wherever there’s competitive spirit, our industry drives harder to succeed, and it is homes and business across the country who benefit. Continuing to harness that competitive spirit will be absolutely vital if we are to keep pace and deliver Full Fibre right across the UK.

2020 has provided many challenges. Together, though, as an industry, the communications networks have helped keep Britain running throughout the pandemic. In the background, the communications industry’s own key workers have quietly gone about their work and kept the networks up and running. Let’s recognise the tremendous contribution they have made in helping us to navigate the most difficult of years. 

But let’s also make sure we keep looking forward. 2021 is the year when we push on, further and faster as we build our Full Fibre future. The plan is working. We must now hold our nerve and stay the course in the months and years ahead. If we get this right, a new, greener, fairer and stronger economy awaits us.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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