The UK’s broadband services have been given priority status with the announcement of the Digital Economy Bill in the Queen’s speech announcing legislation for the year ahead.
The Queen said: “To support the economic recovery, and to create jobs and more apprenticeships, legislation will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.
“Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband.
“Legislation will be introduced to improve Britain’s competitiveness and make the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy.”
The BBC provided the following summary of measures to be introduced by the Bill, which, although arguably a mixed bag, on the whole present new advantages for SMEs:
- Every UK household will have legal right to a fast broadband connection
- Minimum speed of 10Mbps to be guaranteed through Broadband Universal Service Obligation
- Properties in the "remotest areas" may have to contribute to cost of installation
- New code to cut the cost of building mobile phone masts and broadband cables
- Right to automatic compensation when broadband service goes down
- Companies must get consent before sending promotional spam emails, with fines for transgressors
- All websites containing pornographic images to require age verification for access
Commenting on the measures, Cisco UKI CTO Alison Vincent said it is estimated 40% of companies are at risk of being displaced by digital disruption by 2020. “Therefore, having access to infrastructure and reliable connectivity is now fundamental for all businesses to remain competitive,” she said.
“Going forward, investment in infrastructure will be crucial to support the development of digital industries and promote digital inclusion from the boardroom right through to the classroom, while also positioning UK businesses to attract and retain top talent. By laying the foundations and establishing broadband as an essential pillar to the future of the UK economy, businesses will be able to drive innovation and build a framework that will improve productivity, fuel collaboration, capitalise of business opportunity and accelerate the UK digital economy.”