Commenting on further investments into faster broadband announced in the Budget today, Daniel Jacobson, Senior Economist in PwC’s TMT practice, said the following:
"Digital infrastructure is key to supporting a progressive modern economy, as each improvement in broadband speed and access leads to an improvement in economic productivity and performance. It's positive to see the government committing further funds to accelerate the digital networks of the future.
“While the UK compares favourably to EU countries for broadband coverage generally, it currently lags behind most EU nations when it comes to Gigabit Fibre coverage. The competitive landscape in the UK is already driving significant investment in Gigabit Fibre and 5G broadband. However, this investment is prioritised in the most competitive areas. Today’s announcement will ensure that the fastest broadband will be rolled out to the hardest to reach parts of the country, to prevent digital exclusion. This will ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, gets access to the benefits of faster broadband. We have seen with COVID-19 how important it is for employees to be able to effectively continue working from home. Fast reliable broadband is a key enabler to make this happen.
“We will need to review the details to understand how the £5bn investment in fibre broadband will be delivered, given the challenging rollout programme already being embarked on. Similarly the Government and mobile operators have looked at improving coverage through national roaming and rolling out more base stations, with mixed success due to existing planning restrictions and the risk of knock-on impacts like more dropped calls and reduced incentives to invest. It will be interesting to see how today’s Shared Rural Network agreement with the mobile industry provides more assurances that mobile not-spots will be a thing of the past."