Although the UK's GDP puts it among the top 10 wealthiest nations on the planet, it is just outside this elite group when it comes to broadband speed, according to Bloomberg.
However, significant investment in the broadband infrastructure of Britain is being made to ensure that speeds are not only improved, but superfast connectivity is more widely available than ever before.
Broadband has the ability to make geographic location an irrelevance, allowing urban and rural businesses to compete on a level playing field and fuelling the national economy, not just the already prosperous regions of the United Kingdom. But how is broadband able to bestow advantages upon local economies and individual businesses and will growth really be achieved if wider coverage is made available?
Broadband access is not only vital in the workplace, but is equally necessary to ensure that people actually have access to the tools needed to help them secure employment. As well as enhancing education, internet access means that people can look out for jobs in their area, carry out applications and get in touch with prospective employers in order to improve their own lives. Broadband is also creating an army of home workers and freelances who can earn a living with little more than a laptop and a roof over their heads. Business empires have been built from kitchen tables and garages, which is why accessible broadband can be seen as crucial to the long term health of the British economy.
Fostering not only a will to work, but the ability to do so from any location, will make the entire country more economically vibrant and also mean that urbanisation can be kept in check. When people can work from home and avoid the daily commute, this means that the London-centric state of Britain will shift and other areas of the country can rise to prominence as well.
Thankfully the bolstered broadband infrastructure is helping to even the odds and ensure that businesses of all sizes can benefit from modern products and services in the IT sector.
Cloud computing platforms are being harnessed to run individual programs, entire platforms and whole network infrastructures, hosting the most complicated and esoteric elements remotely so that businesses can invest in computational capacity as a utility. Superfast connections can give small businesses access to cloud-based software applications, liberating them from the need to install programs to local machines and worry about licensing small print. The cloud can also help small firms to be more resilient in the face of various threats and disasters, with affordable data backup solutions helping to provide continuity even if on-site hardware is compromised.
From an economic point of view, the biggest asset of the cloud is its scalability. As a small business picks up the pace and starts to grow, it can use a broadband connection to access an IT solution which is just as capable of flexing to meet its changing needs. Previously a firm would have been constrained by the physical properties of its in-house IT set-up, but with more accessible broadband it can throw off the chains of internal hardware and experience the advantages of a solution which is scalable on an almost unlimited level.
Broadband in combination with the cloud has many other benefits for small businesses, most of which are related to cost-reduction and improved efficiency. Upgrades are no longer necessary since the cloud provider is charged with managing this aspect of the process, saving businesses from the hidden costs and periodic upfront investments that might otherwise be incurred. A business is also able to invest only in the amount of processing power and storage capacity that it requires, since the cloud can scale both up and down to remain consistent with real time needs. This leads to further frugality in the IT department.
VoIP and video conferencing mean that meetings and presentations can be carried out without the need for each participant to be physically present in the same place. The unification of instant messaging, email, voicemail and other telecoms services as part of a manageable system enables businesses to maximised employee effectiveness while minimising waste.
Savings are also intrinsic to the IP-based world of communications that are available courtesy of broadband connectivity, so businesses that are looking to trim the fat from budgets or simply realign spending to invest in other areas will be able to do so without having to make compromises. If every part of the private sector, from self-employed small business owners to large organisations, is able to access the internet via a broadband connection, then the entire country will be in a position to benefit.
Economic growth is a welcome advantage of accessible broadband, but this in turn will lead to an improved quality of life. Broadband access allows businesses to flourish, but also means that local people are better able to engage with the enterprises in their area. The tentative economic recovery being made by the UK in the wake of the recession is still seen as troubling by some, but broadband can be one of the catalysts that reinstates true growth and prosperity, so underestimating it is unwise and ignoring it a real mistake.