Broadband or bust?

The link between broadband in use and enhanced economic performance is now unambiguous (see Table 12.1 in the textbook) In markets where mass-market broadband is introduced, there is more rapid growth in employment, in the number of businesses overall, and in businesses in IT-intensive sectors, relative to comparable communities without broadband technology. But is speed the thing rather than penetration? A recent compilation of data by the OECD placed the UK, for example, as a middle-ranking 21st in the speed stakes. It called for more investment, especially in fibre. This was confirmed by some work commissioned by CISCO here at Oxford’s Said Business School. But today also saw the publication of OfCOM’s update of its international telecommunications comparison data. Proudly, OfCOM boasts that we are enjoying the cheapest prices for broadband and mobile, we’ve also increased our TV viewing at a faster rate than anyone else, and our online advertising is world-leading, but it also confirmed that only 10% of UK homes could connect to the Internet at over 8 megabits a second, compared with 37% in the Netherlands.