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Cisco Survey Says UK Recovery Must be Built on Better and Free Broadband

Friday, Jun 25th, 2021 (12:31 pm) - Score 2,328

Technology firm Cisco has today published their UK Broadband Index, which surveyed 2,000 employees across the country to get their take on the current standard of home internet connectivity. Overall, 70% want to see the economic recovery post-COVID19 being built on better internet access, and 55% believe “broadband should be free.

The study also found that 72% of respondents want the Government to “accelerate its plans” to ensure “high-speed, reliable internet” for everyone in the UK, although it doesn’t sound as if the survey attempted to define what that means. Such people will inevitably be left disappointed, given how the government has already rolled back on its previous promise to make gigabit-capable broadband available to every home by the end of 2025.

Instead, the new £5bn Project Gigabit programme only aims to ensure that at least 85% of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable connection by the end of 2025 (here), which comes alongside a vague ambition to “accelerate [the] roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible“.

Meanwhile, 67% of respondents also see the affordability of broadband as prohibitive to low-income households, which is despite home broadband connectivity in the UK being comparatively cheap compared to many other countries. Not to mention the recent introduction, or improvement, in low-cost social tariffs from BT, Virgin Media, Hyperoptic and others (more on that later).

Summary of Cisco’s Survey Results

➤ 54% spend seven or more hours a day online.

➤ 40% say they missed out on critical services such as healthcare due to poor Internet access.

➤ 48% even believe Government investment in fast, reliable internet is just as important as maintaining the national water and energy infrastructure.

➤ 66% view secure, fast, reliable connection as a necessity.

➤ 65% say having access to fast and reliable internet is critical to developing and maintaining a well-educated and informed population.

➤ 69% agree accessibility of fast and reliable internet is critical to future economic growth.

➤ 43% of households say 3 people or more share their home connection throughout the day.

➤ During the next 12 months, 50% expect their overall internet usage to stay the same or grow.

➤ 50% rate connectivity a critical factor in where they choose to live. Of this figure, 18% say they either moved home recently without realising their new location has poor internet connection, or they have pinpointed where they’d like to move to but there is no connection available.

➤ 71% of workers in the UK say broadband services must improve dramatically in order for people to be able to work anywhere.

➤ 38% of hybrid workers, and 30% of those who work remotely full-time, claim their home connection is only average or weak meaning they cannot rely on a strong connection. As a result, almost three in 10 (29%) hybrid workers claim they’ll upgrade within a year.

One particularly interesting result from this survey is that more than half of UK workers (55%) believe “broadband should be free,” which is no doubt also something that certain politicians would welcome (here). The reality is there’s no such thing as free, because somebody always ends up paying for it, somewhere.

Mind you, there may yet be a case for a free entry-level tariff for the most disadvantaged groups, perhaps supported by a government subsidy. But it would need to be done without destroying the entire commercial telecoms sector and thus wrecking the tens of billions in inward invest that is currently helping to rollout gigabit broadband across the UK. Not so easy and unlikely to happen anytime soon.

At present though, Ofcom is more interested in trying to encourage broadband ISPs to introduce cheaper and more effective social tariffs, and they appear to be having some luck in that department (here, here and here). We think this voluntary solution is probably a better approach, not least because it’s being done without the need for new legislation and avoids causing massive harm to the wider competitive telecoms market.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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26 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ig Og says:

    “half of UK workers (55%) believe “broadband should be free,””

    Jeremy was right; again!

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Right in that many people like stuff promoted as “free”, sure, but not necessarily right in the approach to delivery that he promoted. If somebody asks – do you want free full fibre broadband for life, a lot of people will say “yes” without considering the wider ramifications or realities involved.

    2. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Damien: “I wouldn’t mind “full fibre broadband” at whatever cost.”

      That used to be available via BT’s FTTP-on-Demand. However, it’s pretty much a dead product now, with over-expansive quotes, more than one year of order-fulfilment times, and limited to just a few hundred orders in in total per year or so. The sad truth is, the only option for many small businesses is to relocate their offices to areas which have adequate fibre broadband, if that is important for the business or home-office.

    3. Avatar photo Samuel says:

      Try Starlink if cost isn’t an issue and your speeds are that bad.

    4. Avatar photo Scott says:

      I had FTTPoD installed a year or 2 ago. It was a long, expensive procedure. The final cost was just over 6K inc vat excluding the broadband costs and it took around 2 years to install at my residential address. I felt really lucky because it was at about the time that ISPs were halting FTTPoD orders due to a surge in uptake and when surveyors were quoting 30-40K install costs for some reason.

    5. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Scott: 6K inc vat isn’t too bad. I assume you can treat it all as a business expense?

      The real issue with FTTPoD is the lack of availability due to a very limited number of deployment slots per year, and because taking more than a year for an order fulfilment is simply not acceptable. Also, it’s not a symmetric fibre. BT might as well scrap it altogether, that would be more honest.

    6. Avatar photo Mike says:

      This is why democracy leads to communism, politicians promise free stuff to the get votes of the unwashed and eventually the state ends up offering everything but providing nothing.

  2. Avatar photo Bob2002 says:

    Nothing is “free”, do these workers do their job for nothing? Thought not. Complete airheads.

    1. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! 🙂

    2. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Almost sounds like 1/2 the country on the dole, perhaps true if the furloughed are included.

  3. Avatar photo Constantly Annoyed says:

    The Broadband should be free bit always makes me smile.

    Why do people think it should be free? Because it is important to everyday life etc? If so then why isnt Water free or Gas or Electricity or even Food?

    As as been said, nothing is free – just ‘Free at point of use’ at best (NHS etc)it is still all being paid for somewhere.

    1. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Those should be free too.

    2. Avatar photo Sam says:

      Nothing should be free because it isn’t actually free.

      The only ones that wish everything was free are the same ones that don’t want to work and claim benefits.

      If the “government” is paying for it, it’s actually US, the working people paying for it.

  4. Avatar photo The Facts says:

    Free broadband and a free Cisco router please.

  5. Avatar photo Johnson says:

    Well all the adsl crap they offering right now 100% should be free. I can pay for gigabit £20 per month no more. You can’t give me good upload speeds so you not worth my hard earned money.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The real-world catch there is that while ADSL may be crap, it’s also more expensive to maintain, particularly in areas where that is the only option.

    2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Which is why it should be replaced.

    3. Avatar photo Mike says:

      If you’re on ADSL it’s your own fault afaik, given the alternatives available, LEO, 4G etc.

  6. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    “which is despite home broadband connectivity in the UK being comparatively cheap compared to many other countries.”

    That’s a bit misleading. It matters not what other countries pay for it, what matter is what we actually “have to” pay here. Its like saying “Cheap if you’re on a decent wage” which the vast majority in the UK isn’t anyway.

    The problem I have is good quality internet access is a necessity now and “value for money” isn’t something any UK ISP’s even offers. What we have is a monopoly with BT and Virgin.

    I’m paying nearly £300 a year for half-decent internet access. Not good value either.

    Bring back FreeUK on FTTP or cable I say! god how I miss the good old days of the internet!

  7. Avatar photo Gary says:

    I never liked Cisco.

    Why is he getting into the debate on broadband? He’s had his time in the spotlight with ‘The Thong Song’.

  8. Avatar photo Robin Hood says:

    I wonder if Cisco would give their kit away for free to allow ISP’s to offer free Internet. I think not.

    I bet if you asked them if they would like electricity and water to be free they would say yes as well.

    What a stupid question to ask. Makes you wonder whether the survey was stupid and makes you wonder whether cisco is stupid?

  9. Avatar photo Gary says:

    Oh my, This brightened up my day 🙂

    With respondents like these maybe Darwin was in fact wrong.

    50% rate connectivity a critical factor in where they choose to live. Of this figure, 18% say they either moved home recently without realising their new location has poor internet connection.

    So 18% of the 50% who said it was critical , felt it was so critical they moved house and didn’t bother checking. Yup.

  10. Avatar photo Neil says:

    I can see an argument for some form of universal basic broadband maybe just at 30Mbps. However, that would need to be paid for somewhere. I am not opposed to such a scheme being funded by taxes, that way network providers get paid. The only other option would be to create a nationalised ISP that was carried on the Openreach network with all properties able to plug and play but only having it deliver the basic speed of 30Mbps and no voice service. However, this is not really doable as it would harm the market to such an extent as to slow the pace of investment to a crawl. (Not that we aren’t lagging very far behind on this already, hello asynchronous speeds on BT FTTP)… So the most sensible option is part what CPs are doing now but with funding from taxes to make it free so as to not damage profits and reduce investment.

  11. Avatar photo Martin says:

    I wonder if Cisco are willing to pay higher corporation taxes (to the UK)to fund this?

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Corporations don’t pay higher taxes, the customers do.

  12. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Who actually NEEDS free broadband? Nobody.

    You can get broadband for £20 a month these days, sometimes less depending on deals/packages!

    That’s less than £1 a day.

Comments are closed

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