A wide-ranging review to improve business access to broadband has been announced today (24 February 2016) by Business Secretary Sajid Javid in a keynote speech to the EEF annual conference, where he also set out his plans to support British manufacturing.
Broadband has the potential to transform the way in which modern businesses work together, reach their consumers and target their export markets. With a value of over £120 billion each year to the economy, the review will be ambitious and seize the opportunities that digital connectivity presents. It will build on the government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband which has already taken superfast speeds to an extra 3.5 million businesses and homes across the UK who would otherwise have missed out. This is on track to cover 95% of the UK by 2017.
This new review, led jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will specifically look at increasing the level of affordable and high quality fibre broadband available to businesses. It will assess what steps can be taken to encourage choice and competition which will help drive down prices while delivering a better service.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:
The UK remains one of the world’s leading manufacturing nations, contributing over £171 billion to the UK economy last year. I was proud to secure an investment of almost £7 billion as part of the national science capital commitment in the Autumn Statement and we have invested £300 million in High Value Manufacturing Catapults in just 5 years. But I want us to do more; I want Britain to be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and to lead the world in innovation.
Developing new technologies, an extensive digital infrastructure, vibrant competition and consumer choice are all vital for UK businesses and central to the UK being at the forefront of ‘Industry 4.0’.
That is why today I have announced a wide-ranging review of business broadband in the UK. As a one nation government I want every business, regardless of size or location to benefit from access to the fast, reliable connectivity they need to thrive.
Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF said:
Access to high quality broadband is critical for business and manufacturers increasingly rely on it. This review is therefore timely and should lead to a significant push by government and providers to help improve digital connectivity and affordability so that companies in the UK can take advantage of more global opportunities.
Manufacturers are future focussed and government can lead the way. Today’s announcement demonstrates government is doing just that, helping to pave the way for future productivity growth by taking action now and planning for the future. The Secretary of State’s action today is an early and welcome down payment on ensuring that Britain can become a leading player in the fourth industrial revolution.