The UK has a digital economy that is the envy of many around the world and is Europe’s largest tech hub, with twice as much investment in tech than any other European country. Digital also is the fastest growing part of the UK economy, with the technology sector contributing 12.5 per cent of GDP and digitally intensive businesses accounting for 24 per cent of exports and over three million jobs within the country.
Digital technology looks set to underpin nearly every business. From business professionals working on the move to police officers being able to assess criminal evidence on location to farmers harvesting crops remotely – the productivity gains from a more digitised, connected future are vast. However, whilst there are opportunities, these can only be realised if the UK has the world-class connectivity to underpin digital transformation.
The UK currently has a good standard of digital infrastructure. But as the nation repositions itself as Global Britain – with new trading relationships with European partners and across the world – driving innovation, investment and productivity to deliver economic growth for the whole country has become even more important. For this, it is essential for the UK to ensure not just a good level of digital connectivity and but a world-class one.
World class connectivity is the ability for citizens, consumers and businesses to reliably and securely access a full range of digital services at a cost they can afford, both now and in the future.
To achieve all this, the below five priorities need to be considered if the UK is to ensure it can make the leap from good to great connectivity:
- Government and regulators should put sustainable investment at the heart of decision-making, such that suppliers are not penalised when upgrading their existing infrastructure.
- Facilitate greater collaboration through public and private partnership by establishing broad framework agreements that encourage cooperation and trust, for example in (road and rail) transport corridors and health and social care.
- Create a supportive regulatory environment that encourages investment, innovation and early adoption of digital products and services. A co-ordinated approach to local regulations by government at local and central levels is welcomed and will dramatically reduce costs and delays in the installation and operation of digital infrastructure of the future such as fibre and 5G.
- Maintain the UK’s position as an international spectrum leader through agile implementation of spectrum approaches that enable innovative applications, such as fit-for-purpose licenses that will be vital for the upcoming 5G trials and testbeds.
- Safeguard the UK’s recognition internationally as a place for businesses to develop digital technologies and services, by ensuring continued UK influence in the development of relevant international (including European) regulations, participation in key international technology initiatives as well as maintaining mutual recognition of UK certifications, accreditations and licensing associated with international markets.
Addressing the recommendations outlined above through effective and efficient partnerships across all levels of Government, public agencies and industry will be fundamental to achieving the high quality, secure, and resilient digital infrastructure needed for the future. This will allow the UK to jump from good to great connectivity, providing the essential tools for every British business to become a digital business, and creating an open digital economy that works for everyone.
For techUK’s full report on From Good to Great Digital Connectivity for a World Class Economy, please click here.