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Gigabit broadband rollout hampered by lack of understanding of benefits

Many UK consumers and businesses are unaware of the benefits of gigabit broadband, putting its rollout at risk, the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) has warned.

The group, put together by Which?, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at the request of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), recommended that Ofcom work with broadband companies on common terminology to break down advertising jargon and describe gigabit broadband and its benefits in simple terms.

Gigabit Internet, which delivers download speeds of 1 Gbps, is useful for multiple 4K video streams, online gaming, immersive media such as 360-degree video and VR, as well as tighter integration into cloud-based services.

In its 2019 manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to deliver full-fibre and gigabit-enabled broadband to every home and business in the UK by 2025, although after winning the election, it cut that pledge to just 85 per cent.

In March, DCMS criticized the government for failing to explain how it intended to achieve even this narrower goal. According to a GigaTAG report, about six in 10 (59 percent) consumers were unaware of gigabit-capable broadband, and a third (33 percent) of small and micro businesses have never heard of gigabit-capable broadband.

Low demand for these better services could hamper government rollout ambitions, it warned.

As part of its work to improve information clarity, it suggested that Ofcom establish a “gigabit-ready” labeling scheme – similar to the BSI KiteMark – that could help improve consumers’ and businesses’ understanding of gigabit-ready labels. to increase broadband.

It also proposes to enlist the help of local authorities to raise awareness and promote the benefits of upgrading to gigabit broadband at the local level, in addition to a nationwide campaign.

The report identifies affordability as a major barrier to the adoption of broadband with gigabit capabilities for low-income households, and research shows that about two in five (44 percent) of those in low-income households consider it a cites problem.

Among the barriers identified in the report are consumers’ low willingness to pay more, with only one in five (21 percent) people willing to pay more for gigabit-capable broadband, and a lack of understanding of benefits, with two by five (41 percent) unclear how it differs from their current package.

Rocio Concha, President of GigaTAG, said: “Digital connectivity has never been more important, with the pandemic highlighting how consumers depend on a good broadband connection for everyday activities such as working remotely, accessing services and staying in touch with family and friends.

“The demand for faster, more reliable broadband services is critical to the success of the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband and to ensure that the benefits of these connections are realized.

” Better information about the benefits, measures to improve the language used to describe these services, along with possible targeted voucher and discount schemes, will help to remove the barriers that prevent consumers from taking advantage of better connections.

” Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “Gigabit broadband is the next great leap in internet technology and our record £5bn investment is fueling the rollout quickly – with 60 per cent of the UK set to have access to just over £5 billion by the end of this year.

12 percent in 2019. “We firmly believe in ensuring that everyone can feel the benefits of these blazing-fast speeds and I will carefully consider GigaTAG’s welcome proposals to drive consumer adoption.” An Ofcom spokesperson said:

“We agree it’s important for people to understand the benefits of these faster, more reliable connections. That’s why we’ve already started working with the industry to ensure customers have clear, consistent information from compare different providers.