Connectivity issues cost UK economy millions of pounds

Lack of investment from the UK government in cellular connectivity is holding back businesses, especially in rural areas.

  • 4 months ago Posted in

Cradlepoint has published the findings from its State of Connectivity in Europe report in cooperation with Censuswide. According to the report, European businesses could be missing out on billions of pounds as 74% experienced at least 2 hours of downtime every week. With Statista stating that an hour of downtime for a global business can cost £290,000, this constitutes a huge cost to European economies. On top of this, connectivity problems have resulted in greater operating costs for 47% of businesses, and 33% report losing potential business as a result of connectivity issues.

According to the survey, poor connectivity has also led a fifth (21%) of European firms to lose talent due to the impacts of poor connectivity. Increasing the challenge for firms as they face an already tight labour market. enhancing connectivity could have a significant economic effect, with 36% of respondents stating that it could generate a financial impact of between £1-£10 million on their economy. It also found that businesses overwhelmingly agree that improved connectivity would increase their resilience to future shocks, with 90.5% agreeing that it would help them manage potential economic, societal, and political challenges. However, this realisation does not appear to have reached governments, with 46% of businesses stating their governments are not investing enough in connectivity projects.

Lack of investment is not just holding back businesses either, with 80% of respondents stating poor connectivity was holding back pupils from developing skills necessary to thrive and succeed in a modern economy. Likewise, 80% agreed that improving free connectivity would help eliminate the divide between poorer and richer students.

Poor connectivity holding back the UK from levelling up

In the UK specifically, the survey found that poor connectivity hinders progress in rural areas in rural communities, greatly affecting local businesses and economies. In fact, 84% agree poor connectivity in rural areas means they would set up a new business in a city. Further to this, 79% agree rural areas are being left behind in medical innovation due to poor connectivity, and 73% agree the NHS digital transformation strategy is being held back due to poor connectivity in hospitals.

In light of this, the UK government has recently released its roadmap for wireless infrastructure, which announced investing £40m to drive the take up of innovative 5G-enabled services for business and the public sector.

In response to the roadmap and the survey findings, James Bristow, SVP EMEA at Cradlepoint, stated, “It is reassuring that the UK government has finally released their strategy for improving wireless infrastructure nationwide. Providing clarity and, crucially, funding for 5G and 4G planning is always a welcomed step. However, the proof will be in the execution, and these guidelines must be followed up with strong action to ensure the goals are met.

“While this plan is a step in the right direction, the deadline of 2030 is still several years away, and the objectives leave lots of room for improvement. For example, only getting 5G to populated areas means rural areas will continue to be left behind, often the places that need the most attention. Meaning existing digital and productivity gaps will persist in the future as well. If the government is truly determined to establish the UK as a leading nation in the world of wireless infrastructure and unlock the benefits this can bring to businesses, much more support is needed.”

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