For many people broadband speed is just as important to them as the state of local schools and having decent transport links. Yet the reality is that far too many homes and businesses are still languishing in the technological dark ages, especially in more remote rural areas.
So the news that the Chancellor Philip Hammond will use tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to announce plans for a £1bn investment in the “gold standard” of broadband across the UK is to be broadly welcomed. The Government says the aim is to boost the country’s digital infrastructure by investing in ‘full-fibre’ broadband that allows people to share digital content faster.
If we are to truly see the roll out of super-fast broadband for everyone then it cannot come quickly enough. At present there are too many communities having to contend with frustratingly slow internet access – there was even a claim by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce earlier this year that broadband speeds in Yorkshire’s second-biggest city were lagging behind those across Europe, offering less than half the speed of villages in Poland and Romania.
This highlights the disparity that exists in certain areas and which must be properly addressed if we are to genuinely have a world class digital infrastructure.
The future sustainability of our communities both in towns and cities and in the countryside is at stake and we simply cannot afford for anyone to be left behind.
The Government’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction – but it must now deliver on this pledge.