Great telecoms infrastructure is invaluable for your business, but only if you can get your hands on it. Research at the end of 2016 revealed that UK mobile connectivity is lagging the likes of Albania, Peru and Romania, while UK-wide connectivity is falling behind London. As a nation known for its entrepreneurship, innovation and tech-driven industries, we’re going to have to catch up at some point to bring our telecoms infrastructure up to speed with the rest of the world. Will 2017 prove to be that magic year?
Work it Harder, Make it Better, Do it Faster, Makes Us Stronger
Let’s set the scene. According to a report issued by the National Infrastructure Commission, the UK is ranked 54th in the world for 4G connectivity. As a 4G supplier, this makes us incredibly frustrated. Mass market commercial 3G in the UK was first rolled out in 2003, which means that for the past 14 years we’ve been resting on our laurels. Now there’s talk of 5G in a bid to become a connectivity world leader, which means that past mistakes can’t be replicated.
First thing’s first
Half of UK businesses have no access to cheap fibre broadband. This should be the first red flag to tackle. A report last April by OpenSignal (in collaboration with Which?) found that UK phone users can only access a 4G network 53% of the time – which is pretty poor when you consider that the price of an iPhone7 starts from £599…
Who can the UK learn from? South Korea and Singapore have been putting our telecoms to shame for several years, with the former testing out 5G back in 2014. Subscribers to South Korean LG Telecom service receive signal 99% of the time, no matter where they are in the country. It can be argued that it’s much easier for smaller countries to provide good coverage over the likes of China and India, but we’re a small country, too – the US is doing well in terms of coverage anyway.
What the secret to South Korea’s success? A healthy mix of:
- Government-led initiatives carried out by trusting citizens
- Healthy competition – barriers into the market are low
- An instinctive need due to its urban populations – 83% live in urban areas
- The symbiotic relationship between the government and businesses
- Culture – an emphasis on the internet as a tool for education and advancement
What needs to happen here?
If we can’t become South Korea overnight, which is pretty likely, we must at least try to replicate their dedication and commitment. Creating a set of meaningful metrics, based on demand and coverage people actually receive is a start. This will help to address the disparity between London and the rest of the UK.
Businesses have been given a raw deal by BT, the UK’s leading broadband provider, which favours residential customers, and the greater sources of revenue that this stream generates. So, it’s little wonder than only half of businesses have the access they need.
The government-commissioned report ‘The UK strategy and plan for 5G & Digitisation’ admitted that not acting now to deliver 5G would result in ‘losing the opportunity to create £173bn of GDP between 2020 and 2030. A £1bn fund is in the works for the roll out of full-fibre connections and future 5G communications around the country, which is promising, but our aim to have everything in place is slightly unambitious.
Telecoms infrastructure needs to be brought up to speed so that UK businesses can access cloud storage, security, software updates, backup and continuity solutions to drive productivity and profits. When surveyed, 1200 UK businesses called for a reduction in regulation to streamline the rollout process, and sturdier training provisions so that more staff are brought up to speed.
In summary, better infrastructure could be the difference between business prosperity and failure for British SMEs. Research shows that most of us are willing to pay a bit more for better telecoms, so now’s the time to set specific targets and free up radio frequencies, aka spectrums, so that network operators can transfer 4G, and in the future 5G, to consumers across the UK, from cities to the tiniest nooks and crannies.
Here’s where we come in
For now, it’s up to IT support crews like us to hold down the fort while the rollout continues.
You and your business shouldn’t have to accept a botched job on your telecoms because when you’ve got a bespoke telecoms health care plan on your side, work will feel like a breeze. Our nifty team can provide fully managed mobile packages, with secure solutions to keep your business productivity lean and limber. You’ll have our dedicated team of experts to develop a plan that’s right for you, so get in touch with us today to discuss the finer details.