A new report by the House of Lords communications committee, looking at broadband development in the UK, has said that the expansion of broadband should be given the same priority as other essential infrastructure elements, such as transport and energy.
The report has called for the implementation of superfast broadband hubs across the country in sufficient numbers so as to enable businesses and consumers to access the facility – as and when they need it.
The report concludes:
‘What is important is the long term assurance that as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK.’
The UK government has already committed itself to substantially expanding the reach of superfast broadband services in the UK by 2015.
However, the report’s concern that more outlying areas should have access to a quality of broadband comparable to that achievable in many large towns and cities was echoed by the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker. He said:
‘We know that small businesses in rural and urban areas are looking to the internet to grow and innovate. So it is paramount the government rolls out superfast broadband to rural areas by 2015.’
In addition to the benefits which superfast broadband can bring to businesses in terms of improved internet communications and the faster transfer of large amounts of data, the facility has also been recognised in recent years as the gateway to the use of other key services. These include internet protocol (IP), telephony and business VoIP (voice over internet protocol).
Business VoIP in particular has been shown to benefit many firms. Benefits include increased flexibility regarding the expansion or reduction in the number of allocated phone extensions, the capacity to use the same phone extensions at different locations and, in many cases, reduced phone costs.