The Government must take urgent action to make the UK match-fit for the digital revolution and ensure businesses can access the digital connectivity they need to thrive.

This is just one area of domestic policy that risks being overshadowed by Brexit in 2019. That’s according to the CBI’s latest report – Ready, Set, Connect.

This year, companies welcomed the Government’s ambitious target of rolling out 5G nationwide by 2027 and full fibre by 2033. But without Government action on funding and policy in 2019, firms of all sizes will be at risk of losing their competitive edge internationally.

The CBI’s report highlights key actions for policymakers to deliver on their vision to achieve a ‘buffer-free’ digital future and make the UK the top place to start and grow a digital business.

CBI recommendations include: 

– Fast track laws that ensure every new property has access to gigabit broadband and give companies permission to access land or property to install connections for private tenants – by 2019
– Ensure all new Government infrastructure projects include full fibre broadband capacity by setting up a cross-Government ‘Fibre and 5G Taskforce’
– Turbo-charge 5G adoption by raising awareness of its uses to businesses and helping firms to learn more about how to better exploit the technology through Government trials.

Matthew Fell, CBI UK Chief Policy Director, said:
“In today’s world, digital connectivity matters more than ever – if data is the new oil, then digital connectivity is the pipe that transports it. Seamless connections, from full fibre networks to 5G, offer unprecedented opportunities for businesses and consumers across the UK.

“Our country is already home to hundreds of thousands of innovative technological firms, both start-ups and large enterprises.  Business models and workplaces are changing, and more people are either working from a coffee shop, their home or office.  They are the backbone of our economy and they all rely on fast and reliable digital connectivity to run their businesses successfully.

“Action needs to be taken now to unleash our digital economy which is already worth nearly £184 billion. This means the Government must unlock investment, update the law to help everyone get access to gigabit broadband and spur businesses to adopt new technologies.”

On 5G, Matthew says: 
“Businesses are using digital infrastructure in new ways, and it is changing people’s lives by enabling new technologies, reducing costs and allowing people to work more flexibly.

“As a game-changing technology, 5G can also help raise UK productivity. Now’s the time to capitalise on the UK’s leading research base, become a global exporter of this technology and how to adopt it well.

“World-class 5G technology could potentially add up to £173 billion to the UK economy by 2030. Companies are going to rely on this cutting-edge technology to supercharge their productivity and end the postcode lottery felt most by many rural communities.”

On making all new builds gigabit-ready in 2019, Matthew says: 
“Communication service providers are chomping at the bit to upgrade the UK’s digital infrastructure, but access to private properties have become a real barrier.

“With businesses often noting that it takes significant time for new connections to be installed, they ask why not install full fibre cables simultaneously alongside new property developments. We’re wasting precious time and surrendering our competitive advantage if we don’t install the utilities of the future right now.

“That’s why the Government must make gigabit internet connectivity in new builds a legal minimum by the end of 2019.”

Waseem Haq, Digital and Innovation Director of Travel Counsellors, said: 
“We have over 1800 Travel Counsellor business owners operating in seven countries, with 1100 in the UK, so having the communication technology to enable us to connect, share, motivate and collaborate is imperative.

“What’s most important to us is the sense of community we have built amongst our franchisees and the 400-strong office-based team that support them. This is underpinned by our technology platform that enables us to share invaluable knowledge, product and insight across the global community, ensuring constant connectivity with our customers and ultimately enabling the most personal levels of care.

“Therefore, it’s essential that the modern workplace is supported by fast and efficient connectivity, as more businesses adopt remote working practices.”

Sarah Duckering, Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Portsmouth, Horizons 5G, said: 
“We live in a world of opportunity, where more devices are connected than ever before and where demand has never been greater. That’s why we’ve developed a collaborative team made up of leading universities and pioneering space companies, to unlock the unique capabilities of new technologies.

“We need the right digital infrastructure for data analytics, connectivity, and cyber security, this is not just a challenge for business but for everyone and it’s why we need the Government to act now.”

To read the report – Ready, Set, Connect. – click here

Source: CBI