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Full fibre can stimulate UK economic recovery and create 1.2m jobs

Optical fiber
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The rollout of full fibre broadband could assist with the creation of 1.2 million additional skilled jobs by 2025, according to Cebr. 

The organisation says the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on working habits could exaggerate the economic benefits of full fibre and help stimulate the growth of the UK’s digital sector.

Its research says that there are signs the British economy is starting to recover and although this will rely on several factors such as consumer confidence, government policies, and the development of a vaccine.

Full fibre impact

However there is a belief that technology will be pivotal. It notes that the contribution of the UK’s technology sector has risen considerably since the last financial crisis in 2008 and its 12.2 per cent Gross Value Added (GVA) is more than manufacturing, retail and construction.

The spread of full fibre broadband will accelerate this shift. A pre-pandemic report last year suggested that one million additional people could work from home with better connectivity, bringing the total up from 11.9 per cent to 16.2 per cent.

During lockdown, this percentage has increased to around 50 per cent. Once restrictions are eased, half of this figure plan to return to the office but employers and staff will adopt a more flexible approach that means by 2025, a quarter of the workforce could be working from home on any given day.

This would save 300 million commuting trips, eliminating 360,000 tonnes of emissions a year, while the time saved could drive productivity and create more leisure time – both of which will stimulate the economy. 

The provision of full fibre not only means more people could work from home, but could also move to a greater variety of suburban and rural locations. This would allow digital firms to access cheaper property prices outside the London and allow more people – such as carers, parents and retirees – to enter the workforce.

Coupled with the provision of digital skills for people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic, and the suggestion is that 1.2 million skilled jobs could be created. 

This, the Cebr, says makes the investment case for the estimated £30 billion nationwide rollout of full-fibre a “no-brainer.” 

This would back up other studies, such as Assembly Research, which say the total economic impact of total gigabit broadband coverage (which covers both fibre and 5G) could be worth up to £51.4 million over five years to the UK.

The government has adopted a ‘fibre-by-default’ strategy while Openreach, Virgin Media and several other ‘alternative network’ providers (alt-nets) are investing in fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology. 

There is a tentative 2033 target date for the UK’s copper network to be switched off, although this could be brought forward if investment and regulatory policy facilitate accelerated progress.  

Via Daily Telegraph

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.