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April 11, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:29am

Early investments in IoT, 4G & big data help UK land top 5 spot in Global Connectivity Index

News: Report noted how Britain is 'reaping the benefits of early investments in cloud and big data assets.'

By Joao Lima

The UK government’s efforts to place Britain at the forefront of the digital era have paid off as a global index has placed the nation fifth in terms of connectivity.

Released by Chinese telco Huawei, the 2016 Global Connectivity Index looked into connectivity services across 50 countries.

The US topped the Connectivity Index, followed by Singapore (2nd), Sweden (3rd) and Switzerland (4th). Compared to last year’s Index, the UK ranked better, moving up one place to the fifth spot.

"Britain is reaping the benefits of early investments in cloud and big data assets and a-well-thought-out strategy to drive the adoption of 4G, fiber optics, and the Internet of Things (IoT)," the report said.

The report celebrated the fact that the UK government had pledged £1.7 billion to 47 local projects, with the aim of giving 95 percent of the country access to superfast broadband by 2017.

In addition to the £73m investment in big data research and the £40m committed to the IoTUK program, the report also noted the success of the government backed Innovate UK. The consortium, made up of 40 tech companies, plans to invest £30m per year in the IoT in order to support innovation in the digital economy.

In the report, Huawei has also noted that the private sector, "notably telcos and IT service vendors", has been fuelling IoT growth by launching new services on its own.

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This includes, for example, when BT partnered with Neul to provide tech services for a citywide IoT network in Milton Keynes in 2014, and when in July 2015, Cisco announced plans to invest around £705m in IoT solutions in the UK.

However, the report also warns that despite the UK being a "solid investor" in its digital infrastructure and being the third largest digital economy in the G20, the nation will be confronted with the challenge of maintaining its leadership in the face of tough and varied competition, and an increasingly tepid global economic forecast.

In the study it says: "The British government could be a good role model for other countries as they chart their way on the connectivity map. It has shown foresight by having a long-term strategy and has supported its digital initiatives with appropriate funding."

"As a Frontrunner on the Connectivity Journey, the UK is slowly shifting towards augmented innovation, and is therefore in a position to share its experience and expertise in reaching this point on the connectivity path.

"It has proved by example that a healthy collaboration between government and industry can achieve measurable successes for the economy as well as the technological world."

Huawei’s connectivity study has ranked all 50 countries between one and 50, placing them into three categories: starters, adopters and frontrunners.

The company said ‘starters’, like Venezuela, Algeria and Qatar, are the countries where ICT infrastructure investment is still in the early stages. At the bottom of the index was Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

In the ‘adopters’ category, which includes Russia, Canada, China, Turkey, and others, the group consists of nations which have seen the biggest GDP growth in the global connectivity index.

As for ‘frontrunners’, which includes the UK, US, South Korea, and Norway, these are mainly developed economies expanding their use of IoT, big data and analytics tools to build a smarter society.

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