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Full-fibre broadband could boost the UK’s economy by £59bn, claims report

The findings come from a nationwide report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)

 The rollout of full-fibre broadband across the UK is not just about boosting speeds, it could also boost the economy by a staggering £59 billion. That’s according to a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), commissioned by BT’s wholesale arm, Openreach.

The report, “Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth“, presents a number of different scenarios for the potential impacts of a UK-wide full-fibre broadband network based on the impact that has already been seen in areas where the service is available.

In particular, it reveals that half a million people could go back to work thanks to better connectivity; more than 400,000 people could work from home, allowing them to live and work anywhere; and 300 million commuting trips could be avoided each year, reducing traffic considerably and meaning three billion fewer kilometres being made by cars.

The benefits of these impacts then reach further. By allowing people to live and work wherever they choose, some 270,000 people could be “free” to move out of cities and into rural areas. This would help stimulate regional and rural economic growth as well as reduce congestion in cities. It could also lead to lower house prices as a result of less demand in concentrated areas.

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Fewer car journeys means less traffic, which means a more productive workforce. The report equates this increase in productivity to £1,800 per person. It also means fewer emissions, by an estimated 360,000 tonnes of carbon, which would additionally help to curb the effects of climate change.

The report continues that the largest impacts will be seen in regions with the largest economies, namely the South East and London, with London, specifically, predicted to see a productivity boost of £13.86bn, followed by the North West at £5.5bn and the East at £5.38bn.

Elsewhere, the impact could boost the economy in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland by £4.6 billion, £2 billion, and £1.3 billion respectively.

“Full fibre is the UK’s digital future,” said Openreach CEO, Clive Selley. “It will provide people with more reliable, faster, and future-proof broadband and I’m convinced that the technology it enables will become the backbone of our national economy, supporting every aspect of our daily lives for decades to come.

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“It will ensure the UK can be competitive on the world stage, especially important as we leave the European Union. And it will unlock the next generation of technological innovation, allowing our digital economy to continue flourishing.”

By full-fibre, the reports refer to what’s known as fibre-to-the-premises or fibre-to-the-home in which broadband services are plugged straight into a person’s house rather than distributed, and shared, via a cabinet. Openreach has already installed full-fibre services to 1.8 million homes and businesses, and claims to be adding more than 22,000 premises each week – the equivalent to a home every 28 seconds.

However, the rollout is not cheap. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has estimated that it will require investment in the region of £33 billion, mostly coming from the private sector.

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