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UK People Want Superfast Broadband More than New Airports and HS2

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 (8:01 am) - Score 1,224
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A new survey of 2,011 British citizens (aged 16-75) by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has reported that 43% saw more economic benefit in extending the reach of superfast broadband to all premises in the UK than they did from building new Nuclear Power plants, airports or high speed trains.

The Ipsos Mori study found that support for extending superfast broadband was followed by a call to build more nuclear power plants (32%), plans to build new airports (17%), construction of the new HS2 high speed trains network (16%) and the idea of merely adding extra runways to existing airports (12%).

Will Stewart, IET Professor, said:

This survey clearly shows that the vast majority of the general public see little economic benefit in increasing capacity at our airports. The public have told us that supporting the e-economy by rolling out universal superfast broadband will have more economic benefits for the UK than more traditional infrastructure projects like increasing airport capacity or high speed rail.”

But it’s important to remember that this study isn’t saying we shouldn’t invest in other areas. Instead it merely reflects the level of importance, in terms of economic benefit, that we all place upon each category. On the other hand you wouldn’t have broadband if the electricity went off due to a lack of power stations.

Separately the influential British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has unsurprisingly warned that many UK businesses are being held back by slow and unstable broadband connections and that all firms deserve a high quality and reliable Internet connection.

John Longworth, BCC Director General, said:

Broadband is as essential to the success of a business as any other form of infrastructure, as without it firms struggle with the simplest of tasks such as sending an email.

But more fundamentally, it is holding them back from trading the world and making connections overseas. Too often, we hear from companies that the broadband in their area is unreliable, and that this is a key barrier to growing their business. This is unacceptable.

We are in a digital age now where firms rely heavily on digital infrastructure to run their businesses day to day. Although there has been some progress in delivering quality broadband to parts of the country, more must be done to ensure that no business is left on the sidelines.”

The BCC has called on the Government to make “high-quality broadband connectivity a top priority in the months ahead” and wants them to work with the industry to deliver it.

Meanwhile the Government would no doubt respond by saying that this is precisely what they’ve been doing under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme for the past few years, which aims to make fixed line superfast broadband speeds available to 95% of the UK by 2017 and 99% by 2018 when you include wireless and Mobile Broadband services.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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