Opinion Former Article

IET: Superfast broadband must be available to all

As well as financing the rollout of superfast broadband, the government must provide universal access for all people in the UK, warns Europe’s largest engineering and technology organisation.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) says that whilst speed is important, the Government must also ensure that extensive coverage is available.

Prof Will Stewart, Chair of the IET Communications Policy Panel, said: “Superfast and extensive coverage are not alternatives and both can be, and should be, achieved.

“The key is getting new infrastructure, particularly fibre, close to the user, and this is expensive in installation costs.   Once that infrastructure is in place it can also carry superfast as well as 'ordinary' broadband, and should not need renewal again for a generation at least.”

Figures show that internet use amongst all age groups continues to grow.

Prof Stewart continued: “Although internet usage is lower for those over 65 this effect is rapidly disappearing.  According to the latest Ofcom research (Market report July 2012), two-thirds of 65-74 year-olds now have home internet access, the largest rise among all age groups. The proportion of adults aged 65 to 74 with home internet access rose by nine percentage points to 64 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

“This still leaves them behind younger groups but they are catching up much faster than the population is ageing so pessimism may not be entirely justified.”

The warning from the IET comes as the Policy Exchange publishes its report: ‘The Superfast and the Furious.’

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the internet economy accounts for over 8 per cent of UK GDP, a higher share than any other country in the G20. It is forecast to rise to over 12 per cent by 2016, with the internet now accounting for around a quarter of our economic growth (according to the McKinsey Global Institute).

Ends

About the IET:
The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.
Interview opportunities are available.
For more information, visit www.theiet.org.
Follow the IET on Twitter.

Media enquiries to:
Robert Beahan, Media Relations Manager
T: +44 (0)1438 767336
M: +44 (0)7595 400912
E: rbeahan@theiet.org

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