Broadband: The Game Changer
The growing demand for smartphones and other data-intensive applications is
helping to improve the UK’s broadband infrastructure to prepare for future needs. Now, broadband is one of our top priorities. That’s why it’s so important for the economy’s growth. It improves communication, allows the establishment of new businesses, and opens the door to local and public services. This way of communication has made it cheaper for a person to do so. Business operations have altered. During the pandemic, remote education has been made possible by the Internet revolution. Until 2015, the UK broadband market was one of the most competitive in the world, with over 70% of homes having a subscription. On the one hand, almost half of all UK homes had access to 50Mbps. However, there were still around 2 million homes that did not have access to adequate internet. But now, the UK is among the most competitive markets in the world. In the United Kingdom, the spread of broadband has enabled the development of high-tech, highly-skilled industries. Broadband access has helped new ideas spread and made learning faster and more widespread.
Impact of Broadband During COVID-19
The availability of high-speed internet has also made things possible that seemed impossible just a decade ago. For example, during COVID-19, when broadband played a key role, doctors were able to give remote consultations to patients who needed primary care. This is called telehealth or telecare, and it helped to minimize the chances of getting the COVID virus while also giving them the care they needed. High-speed broadband was also good for online education because it let students study whenever they wanted in the comfort of their own homes.
Recent research has shown that students who had access to the Internet got better academic results. Faster and more reliable connections also allowed individuals to work from home, allowing them to support their families even during difficult times.
The Bad Side of Broadband
Unfortunately, every coin has two sides. On January 4, 2021, just as students were ready to go back to school after the Christmas break, the government announced that all schools would be closed and there would be a nationwide lockdown. Many people were completely shocked by this because Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister at the time, had stated that schools were safe enough to stay open. This helped a lot of people understand the digital divide in Britain.
Challenges in Providing Digital Connection
Depending on the capabilities of each house, the need of using digital gadgets and facilities produced a wide range of problems. Chi Onwurah, the Labour MP for Newcastle, said that approximately two million families in the UK did not have internet access. So, there is nothing to mention about high-speed broadband. Research by Nominet showed that almost half of the parents were worried that their child’s education would suffer if they didn’t have digital access. 20% of the parents said they couldn’t give their kids constant access to online education at home. Nominet also found that 21% of parents had to give up their own gadgets for their children to use, making it more challenging for both parents to balance work and school responsibilities.
Steps to be Taken
The government has said that it plans to provide 1 million youngsters with devices to assist in e-learning, and it hopes to bring high-speed broadband to 85 percent of the population by 2025. About 500,000 devices were given to education institutes in 2020, and another 100,000 were distributed in the week after the third lockdown was announced. The Department for Education estimates that more than 750,000 devices were given out during the spring term of 2021.