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Where should infrastructure priorities be these days?
Most people I know are working from home these last eight months or so, due to Covid19 and the figure is over 25% I read, across the UK. Much accidental digital-shift has occurred, due to workplaces having to become quickly ‘fleet of foot’ and are unlikely to revert back exactly to the old ways, even if the various vaccines kick in soon. Home used for workplace, good or bad, will be here in some form now, I would bet, for the rest of many working lives.
Having a reasonable speed of access to the internet, supporting Teams, Zoom, Blue Jeans (WTAF? Other conference call platforms are available). is now as essential as water on tap and 240 volts in our 3 pin sockets. OpenReach have been generously funded and tasked over the years with providing the backbone to give the UK such a thing, for many years. So imagine my surprise to spot hidden in last weeks Budget statement, mention of further watering down the promise of GigaBit Broadband for all by 2025, and a drastic scaling down of central funding. Instead of £5b, there is just £1.5b (less than a third), for something as essential as this.
Read the full chapter and verse here.
Contrast this with HS2 spend of over £100b to get Joe Public, from London to Birmingham 20 minutes faster, in a likely future world where passenger numbers are more likely to fall, due to the digital shift. Would it not be worth spending the far lower £5b now to allow workers in rural Wales, Scotland, England & NI, to download large presentations 20 minutes faster, than the barely better than dial-up, many suffer right now?
I am lucky to be in a street where we have ‘Fibre To The Cab’. Generally I can see 22mbs download & 18mbs upload speeds available to me. Not blindingly fast, but pretty good for my and my families needs, unless the little fella on the xbox & ‘Er Indoors ragging the Netflix, like below😉.
I work with a variety of people in rural Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Many I know maybe live no more than 10 miles from a major conurbation, but are unable to use video on calls or suffer frequent disconnection issues. Without addressing this absence of infrastructure, how on earth will we support working digitally and the digital economy?
These two phrases, plus ‘Digital Strategy’ are actually starting to grate on me.
Everyone needs to accept that its (just) ‘work’, not ‘working digitally’
It’s not the ‘Digital Economy’, it’s (just) the ‘economy’
Organisations should not have a special ‘Digital Strategy’, its just digital elements in the bog standard ‘Strategy’.
Bricks and mortar, whether its offices, retail, hospitality etc, are not going anywhere anytime soon, but their role is changing, as we all realise the opportunities of better connectivity. Delaying or neglecting the priority of faster, more universal connectivity, however its delivered at a fair price, keeps the handbrake on our future growth and prosperity. If any talk of ‘leveling’ up is serious, start with broadband speed and improved connectivity for all.
Related Post: How are we enjoying the working from home, New Normal?
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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