With the UK government ‘s efforts to help stimulate high speed broadband access in rural areas now in full swing, some critics claim that businesses in some urban areas will also be left without broadband unless a similar urban incentive package is offered.
The government’s rural broadband funding scheme, overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was established because of fears that without such financial incentives, private broadband infrastructure companies would consider such rural broadband provision uneconomic.
In the latest round of DCMS funding for rural broadband, £363 million was split between different rural areas.
Now, critics such as Robin Bosworth, a senior executive at engineering consultancy, Mott MacDonald, have called for funding packages for urban areas, claiming that the government is wrong in its assumption that such areas can be left to the market alone.
Bosworth claims that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – where ‘most employment in this country sits’ – are particularly vulnerable in this respect:
‘…a more detailed analysis of the market shows that there are more businesses in urban areas whose broadband needs are not being addressed…and the economic impact of not providing adequate digital connectivity to them is great’.
Bosworth has further argued that any funding for urban areas needs to be in the region of ‘many billions of pounds’.
Bosworth’s fears have been echoed by the Institute of Directors East Yorkshire branch chairman, Richard Tuplin, who said that without government broadband investment urban areas would be ‘missing out on huge benefits’.
The need for quality high speed broadband is acknowledged by business leaders, local authorities and the government alike, as an essential tool to help businesses stay competitive. As well as speedier and more reliable data transmissions, high speed broadband can also provide a business with access to important added value services such as internet protocol (IP) telephony and business VoIP (voice over internet protocol).