It may not have been the rallying cry the press expected, but Boris Johnson’s acceptance speech on Tuesday morning was insightful from a policy perspective. The PM listed “full fibre broadband sprouting in every household” as one of his top five priorities along with Brexit, more police, better education, and infrastructure. It’s the first time that connectivity has been raised to this level of profile by an incoming PM. Henry Pethybridge asks - what does this mean and how can this be achieved?
It helps to start by looking back at the Johnson team’s campaign. Boris’s message was originally targeted at rural party members. It was a key policy that fell on welcome ears as poor connectivity blights rural homeowners. However, what the PM may not have realised at first is how well this message would resonate in urban environments too. Our research report ‘Poor Foundations: The State of UK Home Connectivity’ shows that 85% of people have experienced connectivity issues in the last year. This problem is magnified when you consider that the average adult spends 24 hours online at home each week, double what it was in 2007.
At a time when the UK is in need of an economic boost, the PM has clearly realised the impact that home internet can have on productivity at a macro level. Nearly half of the Institute of Directors’ members say that improved connectivity at home would help their employees to work more flexibly. There is much to do, given that only 6% of the UK’s home have full fibre broadband to the property.
But while the claim of “full fibre broadband sprouting in every household” is promising, it’s worth remembering that full fibre connections do not guarantee a good connectivity experience. Landlords, particularly in a build to rent environment, need to design the digital infrastructure around the technology needs of their tenants, and not just today’s needs but also their future needs. This requires a deeper focus on tenant experience and an eye on future technology such as 5G, over just ticking a box for a fibre connection.
So while we are delighted to see connectivity raised to the top of the list of the incoming PM, implementing full fibre broadband is not the one-stop solution. The UK needs more holistic connectivity planning that brings together all the players who ultimately control our connectivity experience. This includes mobile operators as well as ISPs and landlords. The most forward thinking landlords in the UK are already taking responsibility for providing best in class connectivity experiences to their tenants as they know how important it is for maintaining rental income over the long term. Less progressive landlords, having had their heads in the sand, find themselves having to be reactive in dealing with these unknowns and their related impacts on tenant experience and building management costs.
Download our new research report on the Connectivity Crisis in the UK, and if you are a landlord get in touch here to find out how WiredScore can help prepare your property for the future needs of tenants.