Five key reasons faster broadband is essential to a countries economic future
Ultra-fast broadband is pushing our country into the global broadband arena – but what must we do to get the economic and social benefits?
As an organization we are investing privately, in a once-in-a-generation fibre network. It is a bold, visionary initiative.
Our countrys' appetite for fast, consistent broadband is exploding with our consumption of high definition video over smart devices.
Fibre will future-proof that need. But our current relationship with the internet is as a consumer, not a creator and that’s not generating economic benefits.
Economic transformation means we must use the internet strategically. Our national wealth is growing slower than other countries: we work harder and earn less. Exports contribute just a portion of our income – less than comparable countries - and our economy is founded on micro-businesses. Socially we have an aging population and a growing divide between cities and regions
How will UFB help?
1 Greater wealth, based on innovation and productivity
Researchers at Alcatel Lucent’s Bell Labs estimate UFB could generate $32.8 billion in economic benefits over 20 years.
McKinsey Net Matters research shows better connectivity can drive the weightless economy. It says small business, which is most companies, get the biggest boost in export growth, job creation and profitability from fast broadband.
Studies have recently found that firms who make more extensive use of the internet are six percent more productive, or four years ahead, of the average firm in their industry. If low-internet-use firms operated more like high-use firms, this could be worth an additional boost to the economy.
2 Regional revitalisation
Connecting cities, towns and small regional centres allows people to collaborate and innovate as a ‘city’ of many people. It removes the tyranny of distance and helps regional communities to utilise their natural resources and capabilities to attract new talent and new business, as well as help address some of the challenges they face today. Regional businesses can extend their reach nationally and internationally; families can stay connected and communities can access specialist education and healthcare services out of reach today.
3 Smarter, more efficient homes
Fast broadband can make our homes smarter and that means more comfortable, safer and cheaper to run.
If you have a smart home you can turn heating on remotely so it is warm when get back from work. You could watch your baby safely sleeping from your mobile or even have the house check its inhabitants are healthy. And if someone, say an elderly relative, is feeling sick, they can make a video call to a doctor or nurse.
Smart homes don’t just make life easier for homeowners. Thanks to sensors, smart grids and automation they can be part of smart, sustainable communities where everyone can live more safely and where those in need are just moments away from the support allowing them to stay independent.
4 Work/life balance
One in four people use the internet to work from home. Recent teleworking studies found that 89 percent of employees teleworked for at least an hour each week and nearly
75 percent found that it improved their attitude to work. High-definition home video conferencing means we can literally be ‘present’ in two places at once and collaborate without physically needing to be present. Teleworking saves money, reduces traffic congestion, supports parents re-entering the workforce and helps keep skilled people in the workforce
5 Better education outcomes
It has been observed that elearning on better broadband can create opportunities for our children irrespective of socio-economic background and culture. It can change attendance and educational results.
The challenge is how we harness the opportunity at multiple levels – education policies, learning, access to equipment and teacher training — to keep us at the cutting edge of world class education.
Ultra-fast broadband is a launch pad for students of every age, whether at school, home or work, to learn and share experiences across cultures, race and geography. And it opens us up to participate in the rich resources of leading universities and institutions across the world.
Ultra-fast broadband is an enabler, a catalyst. But short-term economic change requires vision and intent. No one party can do it alone. And it requires a different type of conversation: one where educators, business leaders, politicians, investors, entrepreneurs consider how we work together to maximise the benefits of this next generation infrastructure for South Africa.