CIPR calls for rapid acceleration in growth of superfast broadband
If the UK digital economy is to support growth post-Brexit, as set out in the industrial strategy, the roll out of full fibre broadband as part of a state of the art infrastructure must accelerate, says the CIPR.
Openreach, the broadband infrastructure provider, has announced an acceleration of its Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) build programme to reach three million premises by the end of 2020 through its new 'Fibre First' programme. Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester will benefit in the initial phase. Top class broadband will play a key role in the Government’s commitment to delivering the Northern powerhouse.
Anything that improves our digital infrastructure is welcome, but the rate at which the UK is investing in full fibre broadband is too slow. We are currently among the world’s leading digital economies. The chances of us sustaining that position depends largely on whether or not homes and businesses across the UK can access increasingly fast and effective internet connections. In December OFCOM highlighted the fact that just 3% of BT customers are connected to a full fibre line and argued that this puts Britain's businesses at a distinct disadvantage compared to its European neighbours. In Spain, for example, 60% of homes and businesses have access to full fibre, gigabit capable networks.
Small businesses, not just those in rural communities and towns where connections are poor, will continue to suffer, but overall, this will hold back our economy once we leave the EU. Aiming to connect three million homes by 2020 and 10 million next decade to full fibre broadband is too little too late. Valuable UK assets, such as the creative industries, are digitally dependent and will be hampered by slow rollout. The Government needs to push for a faster pace of investment.
The CIPR has long called for the Government to build support for a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance, and pledge greater investment in the UK's critical digital infrastructure. Data from Speedtest Intelligence shows the United Kingdom ranked 29th in the world for download speed in Q3-Q4 2017, between Aruba and Portugal, and 77th for upload speed, between Aruba and the Cayman Islands.
Notes to editors
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).