This is a critical moment for UK digital infrastructure policy. The context is one of rapid political, market and technological change. As a nation, we face important decisions over topics like post-Brexit regulation, universal service delivery, Openreach independence, TETRA replacement and 5G readiness. The imperative is to reflect on whether our historic approaches will meet our future needs. Where we anticipate a shortfall, we must act to protect our long-term national interest.
This paper aims to educate policymakers about one specific shortfall: the growing ‘capability gap’ between broadband demand and supply.
It makes two recommendations.
This unwanted situation is avoidable by two readily attainable changes in our policy approach.
Firstly, our policy metrics need to reflect the readiness of broadband infrastructure to support both present and future demand.
Secondly, the money needs to move to incentivise the right market behaviours to create a correspondingly fit-for-purpose supply.
When these reforms are enacted together, this will help to position the UK with a world-class infrastructure ready to attract capital and talent on a global scale.