The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) looks at the consumer and business barriers to adopting gigabit-capable connections. Here are the group’s next steps.
Some people don’t have a great experience with the broadband connections they have today. To help address this issue, and to ensure that the UK has the right broadband infrastructure to help support economic growth and consumer and business needs in the years to come, the government has set out its ambition for at least 85% of the UK to have access to gigabit-capable broadband connections by 2025.
The government, Ofcom and industry have all been taking steps to ensure the supply of these connections – including the government’s £5bn Project Gigabit which will help deliver these connections to the hardest to reach parts of the UK. However, for the benefits of gigabit-capable broadband to be realised, it is critical that consumers and business take-up these connections.
That’s why, in August 2020, the government asked Which?, alongside the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), to convene the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) to look at the consumer and business barriers to adopting gigabit-capable connections and what solutions might be needed to help them overcome these.
What is gigabit-capable broadband?
Today, we all rely on good connectivity for everyday tasks. This need for good connectivity is only set to continue, with more and more services moving online – including those which are critical for consumers such as banking.
The pandemic has meant that many of us have been in situations which stretched the capacity of our connectivity over the last few months with many people at home connected at the same time. Gigabit-capable broadband will allow our families to have several video conferences, watching the newest shows on Netflix and gaming, all at the same time.
Gigabit-capable broadband networks are not only capable of delivering much faster speeds (e.g. a 1Gbps connection can allow users to download a high definition film in under one minute), they are also more reliable and futureproofed than the connections most of us use today.
What has the GigaTAG recommended?
However, despite ever increasing demand for good connectivity, consumer engagement with the broadband market is low.
Our research suggests that this is for a number of reasons including a lack of awareness of gigabit-capable broadband; that people don’t see a benefit in gigabit-capable broadband – perhaps not understanding how it is different to the connection they have today, or not being willing to pay more; and there are also practical concerns, such as concerns about switching and not wanting to leave the current provider.
To help overcome some of these barriers that consumers face, the GigaTAG has today published a number of recommendations to help ensure that people are aware of these connections and the benefits they offer. It’s recommendations include:
🌐 Ofcom and the broadband industry should work together to develop common terminology to describe gigabit broadband and a core set of benefits – this will help people better understand why they should buy a gigabit connection.
🌐 The government should enlist the help of local authorities, providing them with the tools they need to raise awareness and promote the benefits of upgrading to gigabit broadband. At the right time, the government should also undertake its own nationwide awareness-raising – leading a coalition of stakeholders to work together on a national campaign;
🌐 In addition to ongoing work to introduce voluntary social tariffs, the government should conduct an evidence-based assessment of the existing and potential measures to support low-income households. This should include exploring the possibility of a targeted voucher scheme aimed at lower-income households, and;
🌐 Further consideration should be given to an employer-led scheme to support the uptake of gigabit broadband by offering employee discounts. This will also help businesses support remote working, which has boomed in the wake of the pandemic.
What are the next steps?
Which? is going to continue its work as part of the GigaTAG – the group will reconvene in six months to review progress on taking these recommendations forward, and we will meet on a biannual basis thereafter.
We will work with Ofcom, government and industry to help ensure that these recommendations are implemented, and that we are all ready to take advantage of these new connections when they become available.
Which of the solutions above do you think could have the biggest impact? Which one would make you more likely to take up gigabit-capable broadband?
Let us know in the comments.