Faster Home Broadband Must Be Legislated

The way we using the internet has changed – and fast. Before the pandemic, telecom and internet service provider BT processed five terabits of data from its UK customers every second during the day. When the pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown, data volumes doubled. In Germany, DE-CIX Frankfurt, a major connection point for the global internet, broke multiple bandwidth records with 2020 peak volumes surpassing 2019 rates by 28 percent.

For a week the offices of the world were buzzing. The next they were quiet. In the new normal, office workers spend their days jumping from one video conferencing service to another, all using essential bandwidth. Workplace communication platforms like Slack are constantly pinging and buzzing. And below that, our broadband connections at home are cracking.

As the world of work has changed overnight, the infrastructure that delivers it has evolved at a slower pace. But now lawmakers are trying to do something about it. Switzerland is the latest country to decide its internet infrastructure is too slow, suggesting it will require service providers to provide at least 80 Mbits/second download speeds and 8 Mbits/second upload speeds by 2024, an increase of 10 and 1 Mbits/second on this moment . The hefty increase is needed to ensure that people have reliable, fast connections as standard to work from home and keep up with online education, the Swiss government says.

“With the pandemic, we have all become even more aware of the need for fast and reliable connectivity,” said Paolo Gerli, a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University who has studied the importance of broadband access and is a member of the International Telecommunications Society, a body for the Internet infrastructure industry. “Both speed and reliability are very important, especially if you do business from home.”

The amount of data sent over internet connections has steadily increased over time: in 2013, the average UK household used about 1 GB per day, according to data collected by UK media regulator Ofcom. In 2020 it was about 14.3 GB, an increase of 1,330 percent. During the same period, the average download speed in homes has increased from 17.8 Mbits/second to 80.2 Mbits/second, an increase of 350 percent. In other words, the data volumes have grown much more slowly than the data rate.

Not only is that bad news for your Zoom conversations, it’s also bad for the economy. A 2018 study of OECD countries by Pantelis Koutroumpis, chief economist at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School, found that increasing broadband speeds from 2 Mbits/second to 8 Mbits/second adds nearly 1 percent to the gross domestic product of the United States. a country. In the UK and US, increasing broadband speeds fueled an annual GDP increase of about 0.12 percent between 2002 and 2016. That impact was measured before the major shift to work from home caused by the pandemic, equating to a subsequent increase in productivity and economic growth is likely to be higher. A separate study by Deloitte found that a 10-point increase in U.S. broadband access in 2014 would have increased employment by 875,000 and added $186 billion in economic output by 2019. almost two decades, but its significance has increased enormously during the pandemic,” says Koutroumpis.


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