Is the U.K. Information Superhighway Lagging Behind the Rest of the World?

5G is the future—but the United Kingdom still has a long way to go to become a truly smart country.
By Marcus Turner Jones

The Benefits of Super-Fast Broadband
When it comes to mobile data connectivity, the United Kingdom is somewhere in the middle, but when we look closer at broadband Internet connectivity, the U.K. is falling behind other countries at an alarming rate.

Users can accomplish most common smartphone tasks with a 3G or 4G connection, but network coverage can be unreliable, which is why most homes and businesses prefer to use a broadband connection instead. Unfortunately, broadband in the United Kingdom is patchy and unreliable as well.

Internet speed is high in U.K. cities, but patchy and slow in rural areas. The issues are caused by underinvestment in key network infrastructure and a lack of forward thinking from the government.

BT Openreach has a monopoly over the infrastructure and cables that run from cabinet exchanges into homes and businesses. Unfortunately, it has failed to update its technology fast enough, and U.K. consumers are now paying the price. Superfast Internet relies on fibre optic cables, but thanks to a chronic lack of investment, fibre tends to stop at exchange cabinets, at which point old copper wiring carries data into homes and businesses.

Implementing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) would bypass old copper cables, but this upgrade requires massive investment. Openreach is, understandably, not in a rush to spend the money.

In Spain, 62.6 percent of homes and businesses have access to FTTH, but in the United Kingdom, it's a paltry 2.6 percent. Unfortunately, unless the U.K. upgrades its network infrastructure, businesses in that country will be left at a major disadvantage.

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