Following the announcement of the Spring Budget 2017, Philip Hammond delivers his first budget of the year with key points relating to the current state of the economy, technology budget, plans to raise more money for the self-employed and more.
CBR lists five of the main budget commitments made by the chancellor with the views of various business people relating to the announcements.
As the first of many technology announcements, Chancellor Philip Hammond made a spending commitment to invest £200m in support of local “full fibre” broadband network projects that are designed to bring in further private sector investment.
This is for improved UK broadband, with plans to implement fibre broadband in every part of the country.
Read more: AI, 5G & digital skills top agenda, but new Digital Strategy comes up short for Britain after Brexit
Rufus Grig, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Maintel said: “High-speed internet has never been more vital in ensuring that British organisations perform to their full potential. Philip Hammond’s proposed investment in rural broadband is a huge step forward for all small businesses. However, it cannot stop there. More must be done to manage networking services for British companies if they are to compete on the global stage and drive our economy forward.”
Although as rightfully said, the decision is a step forward for small businesses in the UK, it is expected that the money is only more likely to be suited specifically for smaller businesses who currently struggle to raise funds themselves.
Marc Agnew, Vice President, ViaSat Europe said: “All investment in broadband should be welcomed. However, fibre alone, while offering hyper-fast speeds in the right circumstances, will never reach every household without being prohibitively expensive. British consumers already believe that the Government isn’t doing enough to meet future broadband needs; that they can’t access superfast broadband of any type; and that investment is disproportionately focused on London and the south-east.
“The UK is at serious risk of ending up with a two-tier internet; where those areas with fast services reap the benefits in terms of education, opportunity and investment, while those without broadband are left further behind. We all want the benefits of hyper-fast connections, but this mustn’t be achieved at the expense of the rest of the country.”
Secondly, Phil Hammond announced an investment of £16m to create a 5G hub to trial forthcoming mobile data technology, with close attention on the government’s plans to better mobile network coverage across UK roads and railway lines.
There is also expected to be more funding added for future trials.
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer, O2 said: “The Chancellor’s 5G strategy acknowledges that connectivity is critical to the success of post-Brexit Britain as we look to encourage investment, attract talent and grow our businesses. In fact, our own research tells us that an effective rollout of 5G connectivity will add over £7 billion a year to the economy by 2026.
“The 5G strategy sets out a clear plan which will help secure the UK’s status as a leading digital economy, but a competitive framework must be in place to ensure the 5G network is up to scratch. This is why we are calling on the telecoms industry regulator to restrict share of spectrum to 35 per cent. A competitive auction will allow the mobile industry to successfully evolve towards 5G, laying the foundation for a prosperous digital future for UK consumers and businesses.”
The government is to also work with Ofcom to ensure the UK is fit for 5G, all in expectation to develop the UK to become a world leader in the next wave of mobile technology and services.
Dr Li-Ke Huang, 5G Research & Technology, Cobham Wireless said: “The government’s plans to invest in 5G technology are vital in order for the UK to retain its position as a digital leader in Europe. It promises to deliver the quality of mobile internet experience that businesses and consumers are demanding, and will also open up opportunities for a truly connected society, powered by new applications such as machine-to-machine technology, connected cars and smart cities.
“5G can also help fix the various ‘not spots’ across the country, such as commuter rail lines and large parts of rural Britain, which are lacking sufficient connectivity and hindering the growth of the wider UK economy.”