UK’s Billion-Pound Connectivity Crisis
A recent study reveals that European businesses may be losing billions of pounds due to inadequate connectivity. The “State of Connectivity in Europe” report, conducted by cloud-delivered LTE and 5G wireless network edge solutions provider Cradlepoint in collaboration with Censuswide, shows that a staggering 74% of businesses endure at least 2 hours of downtime per week.
Given that global analytics firm Statista estimates an hour of downtime for a worldwide business costs approximately £290,000, this data points to a colossal drain on European economies. Connectivity issues have also inflated operating costs for nearly half (47%) of businesses surveyed, with 33% admitting they have lost potential business due to these problems.
The report further indicates that subpar connectivity is causing European companies to lose talent, with 21% reporting staff departures due to the impacts of poor connectivity. With a tight labour market, this compounds challenges for businesses. Respondents anticipate that boosting connectivity could yield a substantial economic impact, with 36% predicting that it could generate a financial return of £1-£10 million.
The survey also highlights widespread consensus among businesses that improved connectivity could enhance their resilience to future challenges. A whopping 90.5% concur that this would equip them to manage potential economic, societal, and political hurdles. However, these insights seem to be eluding governments. Nearly half (46%) of businesses contend that their governments are not sufficiently investing in connectivity projects.
Poor connectivity also restricts pupils’ skill development necessary for success in a modern economy, with 80% of respondents confirming this view. Similarly, 80% agree that better free connectivity could reduce the gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Digital Divide - A Barrier to LevellinG UP
Specifically, in the UK, poor connectivity impedes progress in rural areas, substantially impacting local businesses and economies. The survey finds that a worrying 84% believe inadequate rural connectivity compels them to establish new businesses in cities. Additionally, 79% acknowledge that rural areas are being excluded from medical innovation due to poor connectivity, and 73% agree that the NHS’s digital transformation strategy is being obstructed by connectivity issues in hospitals.
Recognizing these challenges, the UK government has recently outlined its roadmap for wireless infrastructure, committing £40m to promote the adoption of cutting-edge 5G-enabled services for businesses and the public sector.
James Bristow, SVP EMEA at Cradlepoint, welcomes the government’s move but calls for swift action. “While this plan is a step in the right direction, the deadline of 2030 is still several years away, and the objectives leave lots of room for improvement,” says Bristow. He adds that limiting 5G to populated areas neglects rural regions, implying that digital and productivity gaps could persist. “If the government is truly determined to establish the UK as a leading nation in the world of wireless infrastructure… much more support is needed.”