Today we had The Budget and, as ever, everyone waited with baited breath for the Chancellor’s big pronouncements.
As a business we’re affected like any other business by many of the measures Mr Osborne unveils in The Budget (and its sibling, the Autumn Statement) and this one was largely, from a general business perspective, to be welcomed.
What wasn’t in it, which is disappointing on a much more grand scale, was investment in our communications infrastructure.
Particularly in Shropshire, where we are happy to have our HQ, we’re well aware of the deficiencies of the broadband network. There are huge gaps, even in many urban areas, where businesses can’t get a fibre-based, superfast internet connection.
Today there was money for more rail and for wider roads, all of which are definitely important, but you could easily argue that an awful lot of very productive work would get done more efficiently and profitably if we had a world-leading connectivity infrastructure, instead of the patchy set up we have now. That requires investment and central co-ordination and leadership.
Yes, the Chancellor made a fleeting reference to supporting next generation 5G wireless networks through unspecified planning measures, but that’s jam tomorrow. Let’s face it, the 4G we have now is very good where it has proper coverage, but venture too far from our towns and you’re back in oh-so-painful 2G land… On that basis, should we rely on currently hypothetical new networks to be the answer to our wireless woes?
We work very hard to ensure our clients get the solutions they need and we can get a very fast connection to most premises if the business in question is able to invest in technology like leased lines.
What we’d love to be able to do is help every business make the most of transformative fast data without them having to jump through hoops or spend far more than their competitors in more urban counties – and Mr Osborne, sadly, did nothing on that front today. Maybe next time?