The Benefits Of A Broadband Boost
The 20th May was National Work at Home day with businesses across the country encouraging employees to work from the comfort of their own homes. Although a survey by the TUC has shown that the numbers of people regularly working from home fell slightly during the recession to around 3.7 million, the overall trend towards home and flexible working is increasing.
Experts cite the all round benefits of working from home. Employees freed from the daily commute save time and money whilst stress levels are reduced. Employers benefit from greater staff commitment and productivity whilst the environment also benefits from fewer car journeys consuming less energy and creating less pollution.
Unfortunately not all employees can benefit from working at home. For some this is due to the nature of their work whilst others, mainly living in rural areas, simply do not have a robust enough broadband connection to allow home working. In recognition of the effect that poor or non existent broadband can have on employees and rural businesses alike, the House of Commons held a backbench debate on 19 May.
In opening the debate Rory Smith MP commented that “It is increasingly clear that a separation between voice coverage and data coverage is a thing of the past”. This is certainly true in a global village where companies with good broadband connections are benefiting from cheap or free telephone calls over the internet via VoIP along with the associated benefits of virtual telephone systems.
Chi Onwurah MP quoted the Federation of Small Businesses who reported that 90% of its members used the internet in their business with a third commentating that slow broadband speeds were contributing to reduced productivity.
One of the solutions to the slow roll out of good landline broadband speeds is to encourage the use of mobile broadband access or satellite broadband. A number of speakers suggested that the current Ofcom mobile auction should include an obligation to increase mobile broadband coverage to help rural businesses.
The resolution at the end of the debate was “That this House recognises that rural businesses and rural communities across the UK are isolated and undermined by slow broadband and the lack of mobile voice and mobile broadband coverage; urges Ofcom to increase the coverage obligation attached to the 800MHz spectrum licence to 98 per cent.; and calls upon the Government to fulfil its commitment to build both the best superfast broadband network in Europe and provide everyone in the UK with a minimum of 2 Mbps by 2015.”