Earlier this month an article lay bare the cost of connecting a mobile worker, suggesting the way we consume data has changed – and that professionals now have a number of connectivity strategies up their sleeve. From cellular phones to free Wi-Fi spots, this need for new avenues comes as businesses tire of the broadband waiting game.
But it’s safe to say free Wi-Fi spots come with limitations, so everything really hinges on what price you are willing to pay for a service that’s both reliable and superfast. This was a point made clear by thinkbroadband.com editor Andrew Ferguson – also known as Doctor Broadband.
He talked to Real Business about the government’s BDUK plan and how the waiting game has caused critical responses from companies to come to the forefront of the broadband debate.
1) What do you feel about the state of UK broadband?
When one takes a dispassionate overview of the state of UK broadband it is actually in a fairly healthy state and ultrafast speeds of 200Mbps and faster are becoming more widely available. Alas, many feel increasingly abandoned as more and more areas see improvements.
2) How do you feel the service could be improved?
Improvements are always possible, even if we reach the point where everyone has access to a 100Mbps connection – some will want faster still.
Service standards have tended to suffer in the last few years, and this may partly be down to the change from Internet access being a nice accessory to becoming an essential part of many peoples lives and business operations. There may need to be some give and take for the next couple of years before the waiting game finally comes to an end. For example, delivering faster fault resolution may mean more investment in technology and extra staff, which could increase overall prices.
3) Where does the UK stand in comparison to other countries?
We are still well behind countries like South Korea, but ahead of major European countries. Some smaller European countries have better coverage levels of technology by Fibre to the Home and Fibre to the Building, but often adoption and the impact on the economy is behind the UK. While the UK patchwork of solutions and competing providers is not as ideal as some parts of Europe, as a nation we do very well at using broadband for both business and e-commerce.
4) How do you think the government’s BDUK plan will impact UK businesses?
When it comes to large businesses, staff will be able to work from home more successfully. For SMEs there is still a price gap between the entry level business connectivity and full leased line with guaranteed capacity, but this is changing as more competition in the towns and cities arrives. For small business operating in distinctly rural areas things are much more patchy, but looking at the various national broadband plans for many of our competitors this is not unusual. The difference is that in the UK there are lots of bodies ensuring the rural business voice is not forgotten.
The current BDUK plan and contracts should see 95 per cent superfast broadband coverage in mid to late 2017, and with re-investment of money released by the increasing levels of take-up we might subsequently see this rise to 96-07 per cent nationally. Of course while the standard superfast connections may not be suitable for every business, the variety of connectivity available is making it easier for businesses to relocate to the ideal location, in a similar way to how companies have to relocate as the number of staff expands.
Find out Ferguson’s thoughts on where using broadband comes with ease