Economist: UK super fast broadband over-hyped

As the UK’s first 4G net opens, the Economist Intelligence Unit has stated that superfast broadband is unlikely to deliver the rapid returns for the UK economy that have been predicted.

It warns there needs to be a “dose of reality” about short term benefits. Superfast mobile and fibre broadband is an essential part of government policy given the belief that rapid Internet access will boost productivity, create new industries and link distant areas. Telecoms groups are already seeing a rapid adoption of faster broadband services to allow data-heavy applications and content over the Internet, such as TV and films.

But the EIU argues that existing networks are capable of delivering many of the anticipated new services over the next few years. It also warned that there were obstacles to even using the existing technology capabilities, including a shortage of digital skills and ingrained resistance to change, although it predicts that there will be some short-term stimulus to jobs and economic activity.

Superfast Britain? Myths and realities about the UK’s broadband future, sponsored by Huawei, says that some projections regarding the effect on the British economy and jobs over the next five years appear fanciful. “The rollout of superfast broadband, both the mobile and fixed variants, will help, but it would be unwise to expect early returns.”

Almost £1 billion in state funds has been allocated to help accelerate superfast network development, which aims to boost national broadband speeds to more than 24 megabits per second by 2015.

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