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Broadband is the new fundamental utility

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

With an unprecedented amount of home workers, hospital staff staying in temporary accommodation near sites, and people turning to the internet to stay entertained and connected, a reliable connection has become the fundamental backbone of almost every aspect of life.

The demand for seamless connectivity

We are relying on our digital and online presence now more than over. This applies to loved ones connecting during this challenging time, just as much as employees working from home to supply their customers. Internet traffic in the UK has unsurprisingly surged by 78.6 percent since the end of February. Without a sturdy infrastructure in place, businesses will risk falling behind and people will be unable to connect, stay entertained and stay safe by working from home. Broadband is critical to the way we live and fiber-grade infrastructure is the natural next step to delivering reliable and streamlined connectivity in all corners of the world.

Much like water, gas and electricity, broadband needs robust plumbing in order to operate effectively and meet the demand for an internet-dependent culture. Fiber should be at the heart of the nation and implementing this infrastructure affords the correct foundations to future proof businesses and support every individual with the same level of connectivity.

Should broadband be a fundamental utility?

Research has shown that the majority of households now regard ultra-fast broadband as a basic utility, even though nearly a quarter of both UK businesses and households still experience low broadband speeds. As it stands, 77 percent consider broadband a utility that is equivalent to electricity and gas.

There are numerous initiatives being implemented to help support fast and efficient broadband for both local areas and businesses. One example is the recent Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, run by the UK Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This multi-million-pound scheme, recently ended, offered grants to individual SMEs and communities to support them in the costs of installing Fiber to the Premises (FTTP).

The current crisis has brought into sharp focus the extent to which we rely on broadband for almost everything we do. In recent times, broadband technology has become the backbone of everyday life as well as the economy.  Therefore, its availability should be equal to other core utilities such as water, gas and electricity. Implementing a digital infrastructure not only allows us to connect to the internet but it is now the lifeblood for numerous essential services. Now, more than ever we all need government support to make this happen more quickly.

The benefits of reliable broadband

As many companies make rapid shifts to enable remote working amongst employees, fast, reliable broadband seems like a basic necessity to allow us to do our jobs. However, we must not forget how reliant we are on connectivity for other aspects of our lives as well. We now rely on the internet to access new services that we have never been able to experience before, as well as to provide services that we previously obtained offline. Examples include seamless streaming of TV shows online, and using video calls to feel closer to families and friends during lockdown

There also are indirect benefits, such as an increase in productivity, GDP growth, a greater ability for participation from the labor force. It has the ability to create jobs, whilst also enabling improvements in education and health care. By having access to full fiber connectivity, schools are able to hold virtual classes and health care practices are able to have a virtual appointment online with patients; all of which are currently happening in this current climate. Additionally, as the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices increases, broadband speed and capacity will play a significant part in assisting this development.

Reliable, high-speed broadband represents an opportunity for buildings and cities to become smart and truly make a difference in the future. It is essential that fiber cabling is taken into consideration when designing future buildings and cities. Additionally, it enables developers and tenants to upgrade their fiber for generations to come, ensuring they are able to develop as technology enhances.

With life, buildings and services becoming smarter in almost every corner of the world, the need for seamless broadband connectivity grows ever stronger. During this extraordinary time, it has become more apparent than ever that broadband should be treated on a par with the other utilities we access at work or home each day.

The lockdown has simply accelerated the change that has been on its way for a number of years. Now its lifting, things won’t return to the way they were before the crisis hit; it will not be a surprise that more people will permanently switch to this new way of life post-crisis.  Social distancing measures will continue for some time post lockdown and therefore the need for efficient broadband to either work or stay connected to loved ones will continue.

Broadband alone is not enough, we need to future proof our society amidst a digital-first world and full fiber infrastructure is the way to do this. Through access to a fiber cabling infrastructure, buildings are able to evolve and adapt as technology does the same. A joint effort is required from the government, service providers and the end users to fully realize its full potential and allow people to truly thrive. We are already seeing broadband redefine the perception of essential utilities and we can certainly look forward to greater efforts to make seamless, fiber broadband accessible for all. This will have an immediate as well as long lasting positive effect on the economy.

Meri Braziel, Chief Commercial Officer, Glide (opens in new tab)

Meri Braziel, Chief Commercial Officer at Glide. Glide is a market-leading infrastructure and utilities business, delivering hyperfast connectivity across the UK and Europe and operating in sectors such as student and built-to-rent accommodation, shared HMO living, and business parks.