EEF comment on BT fibre broadband investment

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Commenting on the announcement today from BT of new investment plans for fibre broadband, Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:

“Manufacturers have had to invest significantly in leased lines as a stop gap measure while the UK's digital infrastructure is slowly and, somewhat begrudgingly, brought up to be best in class. They've watched as households have been prioritised while business parks have been bypassed. Industry also remains perplexed by the lack of transparency surrounding the rollout of the Superfast broadband programme. As a result, while on the face of it today's announcement is a positive step in improving the UK's digital infrastructure, manufacturers will understandably wait to see how this rolls out on the ground.

“More importantly it can't be right that much needed improvement to Britain's digital infrastructure is only pursued on an iterative basis using only commercial interest. As industry prepares to make significant investments in new internet connected capital equipment as part of the 4th industrial revolution, it will need the certainty about future digital infrastructure in the UK. Government should put in place a business specific Universal Service Obligation to guarantee a level of service that can support that investment happening in Britain.”

Notes:

  • 91% of manufacturers say a high speed internet connection is as essential to business as electricity and water
  • Over a third of manufacturers are spending more than £5000 pa on internet connections (23% of small manufacturers, 50% of mid-sized and 89% of large)
  • A third of manufacturers have invested in a dedicated leased line connection
  • 62% of firms plan to invest more in internet connected capital equipment in the next five years
  • Just over 50% of manufacturers say their current internet connection isn’t adequate enough for their expected needs over the next five years (only 35% said it was)
  • For more information on the transformation of industry to the fourth industrial revolution visit www.eef.org.uk/fourthindustrial

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