Levelling up your broadband – what would better connectivity mean for UK families?

According to recent stats released by the Government, ‘1,200 schools, 340 libraries and 50 hospitals’ – as well as 5,000 public buildings – are among those who have been connected with full-fibre broadband. Our CEO, Charlie Ruddy, has his say on the ‘levelling up’ campaign and how we can remove digital disparities…

14 July 2022

I’ve heard a lot in the press lately about the Government’s ‘levelling up’ mission to offer those left behind the chance to catch-up. From our point of view that means there must remain a huge focus on fibre-to-the-premises coverage as we power towards a gigabit-capable future.

And yes, while things are happening, I’m still all too aware that we’re the 5th largest global economy and yet are 48th for internet service provider download speeds according to World Population Review. Our nationwide offering trails the likes of Monaco, Singapore and Hong Kong.

That could class us as a ‘third world country digitally’ because our statistics are so damning. Why are we slipping behind the pack when, let’s not forget, Britain was once a country which led the way in telecommunications?

As an organisation, we believe in full-fibre access being made available to all and I’ve been speaking a lot about collaboration at various industry talks. These ‘rallying calls’ for our industry to come together have focused on how we can collectively address any connectivity disparities.

A good starting point should be thinking less about overbuilding to ‘win the network race’ and more about how we can work together to tackle the digital divide. There’s a mindset change that needs to happen fast throughout a telecoms industry that’s historically been built on broken promises.

While yes, some will argue we should’ve never have been in a position where we had to ‘level up’ communities in the first place, nor have it on the Governmental agenda as a key priority, but what’s important now is that we must face these challenges head-on. Our focus should remain on getting sound digital infrastructure in place to support the need for people to be able to communicate, work, and play.

As we gear up for the big copper ‘switch-off’, our industry is in a powerful position to help our communities and shrink the digital divide. To do so, operators should stop sweating the network and offer reliable and fast fibre-to-the-premises coverage, ensuring the buffering ‘wheel of doom’ firmly becomes a thing of the past.

It’s also important that rural areas don’t feel as isolated as they have been before. That was incredibly apparent throughout the pandemic and lessons should’ve been learnt. No matter where homes are based in the UK, residents should feel confident in their internet capabilities, and trust that their broadband providers will deliver on the promises set.

That means if they’re buying broadband packages with 900Mbps available, that’s exactly what they’ll be receiving. And with that, they can feel safe in the knowledge they’re able to get online swiftly, stream films safely, and upload and download images for their social media feeds without maxing their data – just like anyone in more ‘connectivity-rich’ communities.

It’s our mission to provide quality full fibre coverage that allows family members to keep in touch across the globe, enables young people to access the internet so they can complete their homework, and provide the flexibility and freedom employees require so they can work from anywhere.

All of this, and more is critical during a time when public transport strikes are rife, and the cost of living is soaring.

When we collaborate, more opportunities are afforded. Committing to building a level playing field – that’s supported by a robust infrastructure – means we can become a connected Britain. Because if we don’t, we risk isolating millions of homes who were never given a chance in the first place.

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