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Will 2017 deliver the promised (broad)band?

This time last week, between frantically getting everything ready for the last day of work, many readers will have been listening to announcements that the British government is finally going to deliver on its promise to get us all connected to broadband.

This will appear to be old news to a great many readers in major conurbations. It remains the case, though, embarrassingly, that 5% or so of homes and business premises are still on slow connections. This means no movies for the residential customer and a less flexible working arrangements for the business manager. This has knock-on effects for the recruitment people as well.

Flexible professionals

In rural areas there is a huge resource of personnel to be tapped. Areas of Scotland have reported that once their broadband has been amended, they have seen a great many people returning to work. These may be retirees who want to do something stimulating or, on occasion, people who have fled the cities for a rural life and found that it’s too quiet, or that interest rates have suppressed the growth they had anticipated in their savings.

They therefore look to work from home and a superfast broadband implementation is completely vital.

The last 25 yards

So the idea that we’re aiming to be 97% covered (and that sounds realistic) by 2020 is to be welcomed, even if people had hoped for somewhat better. The real difficulty, however, is going to be the amount of copper cabling still in the equation. This stood up remarkably well for much longer than anyone might have anticipated, accommodating the first wave of broadband perfectly, but it’s reaching its limits.

This is important because although fibre is likely to be taking broadband to people’s roads, this is likely to mean taking data to a junction box in the street. After this, the last few yards along which the data has to travel will be copper, which is likely to slow it down again.

Superfast broadband is becoming a business essential, of that there is no doubt. Whether the issue will be fully addressed by 2020 is open to conjecture.