A recent Broadband Infrastructure Report from the European Parliament has highlighted the impact broadband can have on employment and economic growth, as well as on the telecommunications industry as a whole.
The report comes after an EU flagship initiative, the Digital Agenda for Europe, has set targets for the adoption of superfast broadband by 2020.
Demands for faster internet access are increasingly seeing policymakers trying to make current provision match up to these demands. The report explores how fast access to the internet is crucial in the development of a digital economy in order to facilitate a range of communication services, increasing volumes of internet video traffic, increasing numbers of smartphone and other mobile devices, as well as access to applications and data stored remotely in the Cloud.
A boost for our economy
Entitled “Supporting the digital economy in the European Union” the analysis states that broadband – a term used to explain internet access connections with a vast data transfer capacity – increases employment. It does so through the actual construction of the digital infrastructure itself; whereby workers are hired to lay the necessary cables and pipes, as well as by the making of network equipment.
Economists believe that new infrastructure not only promotes employment but increases productivity through the increased competitiveness of firms, which will lead to the development of new services and jobs.
The importance of investing in broadband infrastructure is explored in the same section of the report. Broadband plays a significant role in the economy’s growth by allowing for the sharing of information and ideas in sectors that are largely information-based. The report also explores how important broadband is in allowing firms to develop more efficient processes as well as enabling them to develop and innovate new products.
A study conducted for ITU stated that many economically important innovations such as cloud computing, video-sharing platforms or social networks are unable to thrive without high-capacity internet connectivity.
Other impacts high-quality broadband have is a consumer surplus; the amount of money consumers are willing to pay for their broadband and the lower rates they currently pay. Broadband is also seen as a tool that can increase social inclusion, especially for those located in remote areas, as well as a method whereby people can easily communicate.
Hitting the telecoms world hard
Another section of the report explores current and past EU broadband policy noting how many of the measures apply specifically to the telecommunications sector. The report recognises the difficulties in the sector in line with the current gap between the targets set by the Digital Agenda and the amount likely to be invested. This funding gap is estimated to be €128 billion by the European Commission.
A parting thought
EU member states all offer varying broadband provision with remote regions lagging behind more urban centres considerably, meaning a digital divide is likely in some areas of the EU. It seems policymakers are setting a number of targets to meet growing demands for faster internet access as well as encouraging business and stakeholders to make that all important investment in broadband infrastructure.
This push for businesses to invest in faster broadband can be seen in the UK where the government is currently offering up to £3000 to eligible organisations to better their internet connections. The connection vouchers scheme is managed by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is available across 50 cities.
The report states that although progress has been made on reaching the broadband targets set out in the Digital Agenda for Europe there is still a long way to go, with only basic provision still available to many Europeans.
So watch this space for 2020…