Full fibre broadband would boost UK economy by nearly £60bn
New research reveals impact of full fibre broadband on jobs and the economy by 2025
Connecting the UK to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband by 2025 would deliver almost a £60 billion boost to UK productivity – an average of more than £1,700 per worker – by unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next-generation of home-grown businesses.
The figures are featured in a new report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR) – “Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth” [available at https://www.openreach.com/full-fibre-impact] – commissioned by Openreach, which looks at the economic impacts of a fully-fibred UK.
The report also reveals that with a future-proof and reliable fibre connection to every property:
● Half a million people could be bought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity
● At least 400,000 more people could work from home, allowing them to live and work where they choose
● 270,000 people could be freed to move out of cities in rural areas – helping stimulate regional and rural economic growth
● 300 million commuting trips could be saved each year, with three billion fewer kilometres travelled by car
Building a nationwide full fibre network is the second-largest infrastructure project in the UK, requiring a physical build to more than 30 million front doors, from suburban terraces to remote crofts. The National Infrastructure Commission has estimated the cost at £33.4 billion, with the majority of this coming from private investment.
However, red tape and punitive business rates on fibre infrastructure currently undermine the investment case and are slowing down the roll-out, meaning that the industry could struggle to reach the ambitious targets set by Government.
Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, said: “Full fibre is a vehicle to turbocharge our economy post-Brexit, with the power to renew towns and communities across the UK. We’re proud to be leading the way with over 1.8 million homes and businesses already having access to our full fibre network. We’re currently building full fibre to around 22,000 premises a week– which is one every 28 seconds. But we want to go even faster and further - to 15 million premises and beyond if we can get the right conditions to invest.
Through our Fibre First programme, Openreach is now building to 103 locations across the UK and we’re on track to build to four million premises by March 2021. With the right policies and regulation, we can build a better, more reliable broadband network faster than any other country in the world and unlock the benefits for the whole UK.
“If that doesn’t happen, then many people will be locked out of a more connected future and the UK could lose its status as a global digital leader.”
In response to the report, Openreach has published proposals [available at openreach.co.uk/fullfibreimpact] that will enable Government and the industry to massively accelerate the roll-out. These include:
· An exemption from business rates in order to stimulate more investment
· Government action to lower costs and reduce barriers to deployment
· The regulator setting the right conditions to unlock the commercial case for companies to build across most of the UK.
Mike Spicer, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“Businesses across the UK tell us there is so much more they could do if residential internet connections were improved - from supporting flexible and agile working to providing new services to consumers. We strongly support initiatives to speed up the rollout of full fibre to premises to position Britain in the premier league of digital-ready countries.”
Many of the premises that Openreach has already built to are situated in hard-to-reach rural areas, including more than 100,000 homes and businesses across the UK which signed up to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme. Openreach is also building its first fully-fibred city in Salisbury, piloting how homes and businesses can most effectively transition from traditional copper services to digital fibre ones.
Openreach employs 33,000 people, and has recruited a further 3,000 new apprentices this year, alongside opening a fifth training school in Bolton, to support the nationwide upgrade programme. The business doubled its FTTP footprint last year and today more than 1.8 million UK homes and businesses have access to faster, more reliable full fibre services over the Openreach network. Openreach plans to double its full fibre footprint once again in 2019/20.