Full Fibre diet key to COVID recovery

15th July 2021

The shape of our post-Covid economy may not yet be fully formed but one thing is for sure – it will arrive at the speed of light.

The pandemic has decimated our economy and changed forever how we will work, but we will recover. Our path back towards full employment, to increased affluence, to greater equality of opportunity will be lit by creativity and innovation – in all sectors and in businesses large and small - enabled by mile upon mile of fibre optic cable buried beneath our streets and pavements.  

This network of Full Fibre provides the essential infrastructure that underpins the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution currently taking place, which will marry our digital, biological and physical worlds. Anything less than a network of genuine end to end Full Fibre will come up short. Copper cable, at any point in the network, creates a digital bottleneck that risks choking access to innovation and progress. 

Phrases like Gigabit Nation, Gigabit City and Smart Cities are becoming more prevalent. It’s easy to dismiss them as just so much techno-speak. Remember, a city isn’t smart because we install fibre beneath the streets and pavements. But it does become a place where smarter applications and solutions can be used to mine, analyse and harness data to make much smarter decisions to benefit all its citizens. 

Full Fibre gives us – all of us – the tools we need. What benefits might the gigabit revolution bring?  

The list is pretty much limited only by our imagination and our current state of knowledge, but some examples: 

  • It is better for our health and for the NHS. The Nuffield Trust ran a trial for 3,100 patients diagnosed with chronic respiratory disease, heart failure or diabetes. It found that telehealth services delivered a 45% reduction in mortality, reduced emergency admissions by 20%, led to 14% fewer elective admissions and 14% fewer bed days. The trial found that overall costs of hospital care were almost £2000 lower among telehealth users. 
  • It’s better for our economy. According to Government research the UK is expected to gain £20 in net economic benefit for every £1 of public investment in digital infrastructure. 
  • It’s better for our environment. Fibre uses less power and requires less maintenance. That’s on top of the enormous reduction in carbon it delivers through smarter transport, reduced commuting congestion and lower levels of pollution. 
  • It’s better for our homes and other buildings. Through harnessing real-time data and technology, housing associations, facilities managers and others can take a much smarter, more proactive approach to maintaining buildings and keeping them more accessible and healthier for all of us. For example, one housing association partner is using smart technology to work with its tenants to help prevent issues such as damp and incentivised this by creating a “computer game” with cash prizes provided through the savings being made. 
  • It’s better for learning. Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated the vital role that e-learning will increasingly play in delivering education. And not just in crisis situations such as lockdown – increasingly universities and others are delivering courses to degree level remotely. And given the growing importance of digital skills in our economy, the demand is only going to grow. 
  • It’s better for our public services. Hard-pressed local authorities are looking at how they can more efficiently deliver essential services to those most in need. Through increased connectivity they can pursue smarter strategies, increasing access to services and information cheaper, and linking community centres, libraries, schools and a host of other locations. 
  • It’s better for home working. Again, the pandemic has demonstrated to workers and employers that presenteeism is a thing of the past. A recent study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) said that 32 per cent of people are expecting to continue working from home at least some of the time. 

Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre, said: “There’s no doubt that the future will increasingly be characterised by faster digitisation of the economy, greater online delivery of public and social services, and more tech-enabled flexible working. It is only with Full Fibre infrastructure, with lightning-fast speeds and reliability, that we can adequately underpin this future. That is why the Government set the target to rollout Full Fibre to all by 2025.” 

And the work is needed. The UK lags behind most other developed countries, ranking 29th out of 30 OECD nations. The focus on social, educational and digital inclusion has never been greater. The push is on, with CityFibre investing £400 million in Scotland alone. The prize would see the unlocking of around £5 billion in economic and other benefits. 

Securing our future must be worth the effort.

To register for updates on when you can access Full Fibre in your area, go to: www.cityfibre.com/register

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