Digital Britain is a missed opportunity for UK business

Paul Lawton, managing director at Opal, the B2B division of the TalkTalk Group, has stated that the Digital Britain report has missed an opportunity to push the UK further in the race for convergence and digital technology.

Lawton commented: “The Digital Britain report offered an opportunity to address the fact that the UK has failed to keep pace with convergence and digital technology on a European and international scale, but the report has become a missed opportunity for UK business and puts no framework in place to create the Prime Minister’s ‘digital capital.’

“Although the report acknowledges that broadband is an ‘essential commodity’ for economic and social progress, the focus remains on social use and the domestic user, with the report concentrating much of its content on allowing consumers access to video content. Consumer broadband performance is focused on downstream speed only but in the business market the need is to share business information and applications, a two way process requiring large files and data to be exchanged in both directions,” he said.

“The UK is already at risk of being left behind and committing to a minimum of two megabits per second by 2012, while good news for domestic users, is not going to help UK businesses to effectively compete in the future or enable business owners to accommodate requests for flexible working,” he stated.

Lawton claimed that for flexible working to be a viable option, home workers need to be able to enjoy the same experience (speed, performance and security) as they would in the office. This would usually involve running some form of IP VPN as well as the use of desktop conferencing, VoIP-based applications and MPLS networking, Lawton explained, which would allow workers to be connected into the cloud using low cost broadband links. “However, what all of these opportunities require is broadband that is both ubiquitous and capable of providing the performance and speeds to support them.

“A minimum recommendation of 2Mbps is a step in the right direction and the benefits will certainly be felt by consumers,” he continued. “However, Digital Britain’s focus on downstream speeds of only 2Mbps will limit broadband’s wider use, because for businesses it is the upstream which is the limiting factor. If, as the Prime Minister says, Britain is to leapfrog other countries from its current position, a framework must be put in place to support the new raft of high bandwidth, business critical applications required for UK businesses to complete,” summed up Lawton.