Before the more recent emergency financial measures from the UK government, the official budget was announced this month, the first of Boris Johnson’s tenure, and while the focus was already on measures being taken to combat coronavirus, there was also some encouraging (and complementary)technology news for the country.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that alongside the £1 billion deal to boost 4G phone signal across the entire country, that a further £5 billion will be spent in a programme aimed at providing super-fast broadband to the hardest-to-reach places in the UK.
Good news at a time when those living in the North of England, south coast, and Wales (to name a few) have been calling for digital investment to infrastructure for what seems like an age. While we wait on infrastructure projects to physically connect the regions, this investment at least shows a push to level the playing field for the country digitally.
I’ve got a personal interest in this story, having spent several years haranguing BT to connect my Norfolk home with fibre broadband, a battle which took up an inordinate amount of time. A far cry from other areas of the country where you can get yourself connected with high performance internet in a few clicks and a matter of days. Back in the provinces, BT finally delivered... weeks before I moved out and back to London.
No sour grapes though (at least, not many). The new budget didn’t promise this overnight; it’s expected by 2025, but when it does come, the new programme is anticipated to benefit more than five million homes and businesses with 40 times faster connection.
This full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband also stands side by side with the £1 billion deal to enhance mobile phone signal. This plan will aim to end signal ‘blackholes’ throughout the British countryside. UK phone providers have undertaken a scheme to share masts so that all customers are able to receive 4G Coverage.
When it comes to accessing digital services, the basic factor of reliable internet finally looks as if it’s being delivered for the country. The current Covid-19 pandemic ‘stay at home’ mandate just goes to show how important being connected with high speed internet is for workers and families around the country. Not just for continuing some form of ‘business as usual’, but for putting critical food on the table and staying in touch with others in these troubled times.