The importance of ensuring world-class connectivity for businesses in post-Brexit Britain
Connectivity is crucial to modern business. After all, the Cloud is useless if you can’t access it.
It’s no secret, though, that UK companies need faster, more reliable, and more affordable internet; a fact that has not escaped the UK Government.
Last week’s Budget promised £200m investment in new full-fibre broadband local acceleration programmes. This, along with the Government’s Digital Strategy, show the drive toward using technology as means of plugging the country’s productivity gap.
However, post-Brexit, no British city can afford to rest on its laurels.
On May 4th, six regions in the UK will be holding elections for the new role of combined authority mayor. With powers extending over the local economy, transport, planning and housing, the new mayors will move powers from Whitehall and make decisions based on the individual needs of their own respective area.
With new industry and tech hubs emerging across the country, this could not have come at a better time. The different regions have started to build their own digital identity over the past year. Manchester, for example, is flourishing as a creative hub, with both ITV and the BBC now based at MediaCity UK, while Bristol is leading the smart city curve in the UK.
Bristol, Liverpool, and Cambridge in particular have seen strong take up with an increase of 24%, 12.6%, and 9.3% respectively from 2015 to 2016. This is a result of their efforts to develop distinct identities, such as digital and creative hubs, which has attracted talent to the area.
It’s no secret that the UK has been the beneficiary of significant levels of foreign investment post-Brexit, and as a result regional cities have become more international-facing. Increased city-to-city links bring benefits such as inward investment, international students, and links for businesses. For example, Japanese Information Company NEC partnered with “Bristol is Open” to support Bristol’s plan to become the first open, programmable city.
One thing that each of these regions has in common is the demand for strong connectivity infrastructure. WiredScore’s recent report ‘Manchester: A Connected Future’ commissioned by YouGov, revealed a concern among tech professionals in the north of England that poor connectivity could give a negative impression of Manchester to potential investors, and possibly put businesses off from operating in the city. Indeed, a third of those surveyed said that they believed more businesses would be attracted to the city if landlords were able to offer greater or improved internet connectivity. Conversely, those cities and regions that are able to promote themselves as well-connected have massive potential to attract investment, talent, and drive economic growth.
The new regional mayors will have a great opportunity to prioritise policies that will support their local digital economies. With greater autonomy over their areas, the regional mayors will be able to lobby the Government and ISPs to ensure that the infrastructure in their regions is fit for modern business.
And in doing so, they will help a post-Brexit Britain achieve recognition as having a world leading standard of connectivity.
Guest blog from William Newton, EMEA Director, WiredScore for techUK's "Good to Great Connectivity for the UK" Week.