Upgrading the UK’s full fibre ultrafast network is vital for our businesses and our economy – now and in the future, says Ben King, Glide CTO. Forward-thinking businesses should be looking at upgrading to gigabit-capable fibre now to connect faster, work smarter and do better business.

The way we live and work has been transformed by the digital era, and broadband is front and centre as the driving force. To compete and thrive in today’s global marketplace, business communities need full fibre networks – the gold standard of connectivity. They’re faster, more reliable, and easier to upgrade.

The world has taken note - demand for broadband with speeds of a gigabit (1000M/bits) is set to grow exponentially in the coming years.

So, let’s take a look at just how important the next generation of broadband is for businesses across the nation.

Does our current speed make the cut for businesses?

What are the government doing about the challenge of ultrafast connectivity?

And who’ll be the key players in financing and connecting UK businesses in the future?

Your answers await...

Digital connectivity critical for success

When looking at the best places to start up and grow a new business, it’s no surprise that strong digital access is considered essential when it comes to making the list.

Business support firm Informi carried out a study to identify the top 20 best places in the UK to start a small business – with a high level of access to ultrafast broadband one of the key criteria. The results? The top spot went to Ipswich, which has good coverage of both Openreach’s superfast network and Virgin Media’s ultrafast cable platform.

Start-Up’s Cities Index 2017 gave digital connectivity similar importance when naming its top 25 UK cities to start a new business outside London. Access to business support, including accelerators, science and business parks with superfast broadband, were, once again, all highly valued.

Oxford made the list due in part to its impressive Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone, one of the most well-regarded science park complexes in the UK, providing world-leading facilities including superfast broadband.

Closely following Oxford was Gloucester, a region that saw almost 4,000 new businesses start-up in 2016.

And Hull landed its spot largely because of its enormous Enterprise Zones, offering a range of benefits including superfast broadband.

But the question remains – do UK businesses have the technology they need to meet the growing pressures of the global economy? 

UK broadband technology is lagging

We’re lagging behind – and that’s a problem.

The FTTH Council Europe, which campaigns for the adoption of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) broadband technology, published its 2017 global ranking – and the UK doesn’t even appear in the list.

And when it comes to download speeds, Cable.co.uk’s worldwide review found the UK languishing in 31st place out of 40. That’s behind countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Thailand.

The UK Government’s response? A pledge that British homes and businesses will have a legal right to high-speed broadband by 2020, believing that only a universal service obligation will make this happen.

Meeting the ultrafast challenge

Supported by industry, the Government is stepping up to the mark to meet the ultrafast challenge. Those efforts began with a £200 million scheme to extend the UK’s full fibre infrastructure.

In November 2017, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a pilot Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. This allowed small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in areas such as Coventry and Warwickshire to claim up to £3,000 each to upgrade to a gigabit-capable service.

The vouchers could even be pooled for a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) solution delivered to multiple SMEs, for example business parks.

This scheme fit perfectly with our mission to liberate businesses from poor connectivity and digitally transform and future-proof them.

As a registered supplier for the scheme, we provided businesses with free installation on our full fibre, gigabit-capable services, up to the value of £3,000.

Government initiatives such as these, alongside vital investment from ISPs in their own infrastructure, are having an impact, and undeniable success. This step in the right direction was boosted in March 2018 with the UK Government's announcement of the national roll out of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

We help businesses gain access to ultrafast, more reliable internet services by investing in and running our own high-performance fibre infrastructure, targeting poorly connected business and science parks.

Meeting the UK’s ultrafast broadband challenge isn’t going to happen overnight – and interim solutions are needed as a stepping stone to full fibre. We’re leading the way with our ground-breaking G.Fast technology, a hybrid-fibre technology which delivers ultrafast broadband over copper lines, offering comparable speeds to FTTP technology, at a fraction of the costs and lead time.

So, who’ll be the key players in the ultrafast future?

Financing ultrafast broadband in the UK

The UK’s fibre challenge has to be met with a mixture of private and public investment, with public funding being provided within a policy framework of national strategies.

“Vital investment from alternative ISPs in their own infrastructure as well as Government initiatives are helping to improve market sentiment and in turn are creating the right climate for more investors to respond. The industry needs to be more transparent about the amount of money that is needed to put UK provision on a par with countries such as Sweden and Denmark.”

Ben King, CTO, Glide.

Schemes such as the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme are a good step towards meeting the cost challenges of providing access to ultrafast broadband across the UK.

With the Department for Media, Culture and Sport's taking the pilot scheme nationwide on 27 March 2018, businesses have unparallelled access to the next-gen connectivity that can take them to the next level.

The Government have a £67mil pot to help the nation's SMEs access gigabit-capable broadband, and we're ready to help them make this a reality. Are you?

If you’d like to explore more benefits of full fibre broadband for your business, mosey over to our gigabit knowledge hub.

For more information about Glide’s connectivity solutions you can visit our products page, put your broadband speed to the test, or learn more about our coverage with our network information page.