The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group has published its interim report highlighting initial findings and potential solutions to increase demand for gigabit-capable broadband
For millions of households and businesses, this year’s coronavirus restrictions have demonstrated the value of a fast and reliable broadband connection. The rollout of gigabit-capable broadband is vital to ensure Britain can meet the needs of consumers, businesses and the economy for years to come.
However, low demand among consumers and businesses could be a major stumbling block to the government’s goal of rolling out these faster services to at least 85 per cent of the UK by 2025.
This is why the government asked Which?, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to form the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) to look into how to stimulate demand among consumers and businesses for gigabit-capable broadband.
In an interim report published today, the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) has identified a number of barriers to the adoption of these connections through its evidence gathering process. For both consumers and businesses, these include a lack of awareness and understanding of gigabit broadband and little perceived benefit of gigabit broadband. Businesses also face a range of skills barriers.
The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group has identified a number of outcomes that need to be achieved if gigabit-capable broadband is to be widely adopted and possible solutions that will need to be considered in more detail ahead of the final report, these include:
- Developing clear and consistent terminology and practical use-cases for gigabit-capable broadband, as well as information campaigns, to help improve awareness
- A labelling system for broadband packages to provide simple, clear and consistent information
- An employer-led scheme similar to the Cycle to Work scheme to support firms in encouraging employees to take up gigabit-capable broadband
- An availability tool for consumers and businesses to check if gigabit broadband is available in their area
It is vital that consumers and businesses across the UK are able to adopt gigabit-capable broadband as soon the connections are available to ensure no one is left behind as broadband and internet technology evolves.
While industry is currently rolling out gigabit-capable connections, there is still work to be done to ensure widespread availability of these connections for consumers and businesses. Without the supply of these connections, alongside strong demand, there is a risk that businesses could struggle to compete and consumers will be left with substandard connections if the key barriers to the uptake of gigabit broadband aren’t addressed.
The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group would like to hear thoughts on the interim report from industry and other stakeholders as it further develops its recommendations in early 2021. It will publish its final report in Spring 2021.
Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which? and Chair of the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group, said:
“This year has highlighted the importance of quality broadband connections, but our research has identified significant hurdles that could undermine plans to ensure consumers and businesses have access to faster and more reliable services for years to come.
“As we finalise our recommendations for increasing demand among consumers and businesses, it is clear that an ambitious and joined-up effort is needed across industry, government, consumer groups, businesses and the regulator to ensure the UK becomes a leader in digital connectivity.”
Felicity Burch, Director of Innovation and Digital, CBI, said:
“Good quality connectivity has kept businesses going throughout this crisis, enabling home working at mass scale and creating new connections with customers online. As we look to recovery, investment in digital infrastructure and technologies like gigabit that can power future growth.
“But a lack of awareness and information stops businesses from taking up next-generation gigabit networks – from knowing when gigabit connections will be available to understanding what specific benefits their firm can expect. Industry and government must work together to determine the right solutions to unlock a digital recovery.”
FSB UK, Digital Policy Chair Kieran Charleson, said:
“COVID has shown that digital connectivity is a lifeline for smaller businesses, but many will have been held back by unreliable connections and slow broadband speeds. The pandemic has shone a light on the need for a robust, future-proofed network across the whole of the UK.
“The rollout of Gigabit-capable broadband will help businesses in rural areas, as well as those who may have lost employment in this difficult time and now want to set up business from their homes.”
Notes to editor
The interim report from the Gigabit Take-Up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) is available on request.
To submit evidence or thoughts on the interim report, please visit: https://consumerinsight.which.co.uk/articles/gigatag
The GigaTAG has also considered the existing work being done to address barriers to consumer engagement with broadband. Some barriers it has identified are being addressed through Ofcom’s current work programme. As such, the GigaTAG’s emerging solutions are in addition to those already in progress.
What is Gigabit-capable broadband?
Gigabit-capable broadband delivers speeds of up to 1000Mbps. There are a number of technologies that can deliver gigabit-capable broadband, including full-fibre, cable and fixed wireless solutions, such as 5G.