Editorial

Want a Global Britain? Then beef up our connectivity, techUK tells policymakers

As the UK begins the process of leaving the EU, ensuring the UK goes from ‘good’ to ‘great’ digital infrastructure has to be the centre of any vision of a post-Brexit Britain, warns the trade body

Posted 15 August 2017 by

Theresa May’s promise of a post-Brexit Global Britain just won’t happen unless we move to a true great national digital infrastructure situation.

That’s the view at least of the body that speaks for the UK technology supply industry, techUK.

It’s putting proposals together to get there and secure our place in the world post-2019 in a special report it published yesterday, From Good to Great: Digital Connectivity for a World Class Economy,report it says sets out its vision to transform the UK’s communications infrastructure to ensure every British business can become a digital business and create an open digital economy that works for everyone.

Recent reports have highlighted world-leading communications infrastructure as a vital criteria of the attractiveness of countries to do business with and invest in, it says in a blog announcing the report’s publication.

And as the UK begins the process of leaving the EU, developing new trading relationships with Europe and across the world will be vital to ensuring the UK remains an excellent place to establish and grow a business and achieve the idea of a post-Brexit Global Britain, it adds.

To do so, claims the trade group, “Delivering world class connectivity must underpin these ambitions” – but the problem is that while the UK currently has a “good standard of digital infrastructure”, it can transition from good to great only through investment and collaboration between industry, local and central government and Ofcom.

The report claims to lay out how this can be done: Putting sustainable investment at the heart of government and regulators decision-making “such that suppliers are not penalised when upgrading their existing infrastructure”

Facilitating greater collaboration through public and private partnership by establishing broad framework agreements that encourage cooperation and trust, for example in the Internet of Things and digital health

Creating a supportive regulatory environment that “encourages investment, innovation and early adoption of digital products and services, such as a consistent approach for planning to dramatically reduce costs and delays in fibre installation and operation”

Maintaining 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

Safeguarding the UK’s recognition internationally “as a place for businesses to develop digital technologies and services, in a similar manner to securing data adequacy agreemen.

Commenting on the report, Julian David, CEO at techUK, stated that, “From the commuter on the move to police officers on the beat to farmers harvesting crops and businesses engaged in advanced and multinational manufacturing value chains, world class digital connectivity underpins the transformation of nearly every sector of the UK economy.

“As the UK looks to reposition itself as Global Britain, improving digital infrastructure will also incentivise investment and innovation necessary to raise productivity and deliver economic growth for the whole country.

“Establishing more effective and efficient partnerships across all levels of government and with public agencies and industry is fundamental to the UK achieving the high quality, secure, and resilient digital infrastructure that is needed for the 2020s and beyond.”