Presently, super-fast full-fibre broadband, with speeds of up to 30 Megabits per second, is accessible to over 95% of households and businesses in the United Kingdom. However, as consumers increasingly rely on bandwidth-intensive applications and technologies, the demand for advanced connectivity solutions becomes more pronounced. This article aims to explore the profound economic and social influence that full-fibre brings, as well as the future outlook and its potential.
Economic and social effects of full-fibre
One of the critical advantages that full-fibre networks bring to businesses is the remarkable improvement in productivity. According to the Office for National Statistics, 38% of employed individuals perform duties from home at least once a week. As a result, keeping a high-quality broadband connection available in homes, businesses, and other locations is critical to ensure that we can accomplish all we need on the Internet.
Professionals may interact and work across teams and divisions effortlessly, despite geographical constraints, with quicker and more dependable access to the Internet. Video conferencing, transfer of files, and real-time collaboration technologies become second nature. The result is a more effective workflow and less time waiting for poor or unstable connectivity. Increased productivity immediately translates into economic advantages since firms can achieve more in less time. Furthermore, access to cloud-based services enabled by full-fibre networks provides enterprises with new agility and scalability.
A whopping economic impact
Openreach has done a thorough survey investigating the economic impact of full fibre implementation in the UK. The numbers are impressive. For example, the UK’s productivity can go up to £72 million by 2030, returning around half a million people into the workforce.
“We’re proud to be leading the way with over 1.8 million homes and businesses already having access to our full fibre network. Our nationwide ambition is to go even faster and further than ever before – and build 15 million premises by the mid-2020s and ultimately the majority of the UK.”
Deploying full-fibre networks requires significant investments in infrastructure, leading to job creation in the construction and telecommunications sectors. Additionally, the improved connectivity facilitates remote working opportunities, enabling individuals to access job opportunities irrespective of geographical limitations.
Accessibility and inclusiveness
Access to affordable high-speed Internet has become crucial for social inclusion and equal opportunities. Full-fibre networks help bridge the digital divide by ensuring that all communities have access to reliable and affordable connectivity regardless of location. It empowers individuals and communities, enabling them to access online education, healthcare services, and job opportunities, narrowing socio-economic disparities.
New services creation
Full-fibre networks provide many opportunities for innovation and the development of new services. For instance, in the city of Barcelona, the government has implemented a comprehensive smart city initiative called “Barcelona Smart City.” The project utilises a city-wide full-fibre network to connect sensors, cameras, and other devices. This infrastructure allows for real-time monitoring and control of various urban systems, such as traffic, waste management, and street lighting.
Through the full-fibre network, Barcelona has developed innovative services and applications that optimise resource allocation, reduce energy consumption, and enhance citizen safety. For example, the city has implemented an intelligent parking system that uses sensors embedded in parking spots to provide real-time information on available spots.
Future outlook and potential application of full-fibre
Global expansion of full-fibre
According to the most recent data, high-speed fibre has become the predominant technology for fixed broadband in 19 out of 38 OECD countries. The latest update from the OECD broadband portal reveals a 12.3% increase in broadband subscriptions across OECD countries between June 2021 and June 2022. Although this growth rate is slightly slower than in the previous 12 months, the demand for these connections remains high due to the need for enhanced remote working capabilities. Fibre subscriptions constitute 36% of fixed broadband subscriptions in the 38 OECD member countries, marking a significant rise from 22% five years ago.
Korea, Japan, and Spain boast the highest penetration rates, at 87%, 84%, and 81%, respectively. These countries are also part of the seven nations where fibre accounts for 70% or more of the total fixed broadband subscriptions. Noteworthy growth rates were observed in Costa Rica, Chile, and Colombia, reaching 51%, 35%, and 32%, respectively, and in Europe, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Ireland experienced the highest rates at 87%, 47%, and 40%, respectively.
Regarding overall subscriptions, fixed broadband services in OECD countries reached 476 million in June 2022, surpassing the 463 million recorded the previous year. It translates to an average of 34.7 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
The support of emerging technologies
Full-fibre networks play a vital role in supporting emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR). They require fast, reliable, and low-latency connections, which full-fibre networks provide.
The Internet of Things connects devices and systems, enabling smart homes, smart cities, and industrial automation. Full-fibre networks offer high bandwidth to handle the data generated by IoT devices, supporting real-time communication and decision-making.
Augmented reality relies on a high-speed connection to deliver seamless experiences. Full-fibre networks transmit the large amounts of data needed for AR applications, enabling responsive and immersive interactions.
With low latency, full-fibre networks minimise delays in data transmission. It is essential for real-time processing and communication in IoT and AR, enhancing efficiency and user experiences.
Transformative effects on various sectors
Full-fibre networks are transforming industries. They provide smooth online purchasing, tailored marketing, and effective inventory management in retail.
Telecommunications offer ultra-fast Internet, high-definition streaming, and support for upcoming technologies such as virtual reality and 5G. These networks also assist in intelligent transportation systems, linked cars, and smart cities, enhancing traffic flow, safety, and logistics.
Full-fibre networks encourage innovation in healthcare, education, energy, and entertainment, smart grids, and streaming services.
The widespread availability of super-fast full-fibre broadband in the United Kingdom has had profound economic and social impacts. Businesses have experienced a remarkable improvement in productivity, with high-quality broadband enabling seamless remote work and efficient collaboration. Implementing full-fibre networks has resulted in significant economic advantages, boosting profitability and growth. Access to affordable high-speed Internet has also bridged the digital divide, ensuring equal opportunities for all communities and narrowing socio-economic disparities. Full-fibre networks have demonstrated immense potential for driving economic growth, social inclusion, and technological advancement.