Ministers will launch an inquiry into the state of commercial broadband, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has promised.
Speaking at the manufacturer’s association EEF’s annual conference yesterday (24 February), Mr Javid announced “a wide-ranging review to improve business access to broadband”, in response to concerns from a range of industries that slow and outdated access is hindering commercial progress.
In particular, the inquiry will examine ways to boost affordability of high-quality fibre broadband, and consider how to encourage a more competitive service, to deliver more choice to businesses and drive down costs.
Fourth industrial revolution
The review will be undertaken by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills together with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Mr Javid said: “The UK remains one of the world’s leading manufacturing nations, contributing over £171 billion to the UK economy last year.
“I was proud to secure an investment of almost £7 billion as part of the national science capital commitment in the Autumn Statement and we have invested £300 million in High Value Manufacturing Catapults in just 5 years.
“But I want us to do more; I want Britain to be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and to lead the world in innovation. Developing new technologies, an extensive digital infrastructure, vibrant competition and consumer choice are all vital for UK businesses and central to the UK being at the forefront of ‘Industry 4.0’.
“That is why I have announced a wide-ranging review of business broadband in the UK. As a one nation government I want every business, regardless of size or location to benefit from access to the fast, reliable connectivity they need to thrive.”
Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF added: “Access to high-quality broadband is critical for business and manufacturers increasingly rely on it.
“This review is therefore timely and should lead to a significant push by government and providers to help improve digital connectivity and affordability so that companies in the UK can take advantage of more global opportunities.”