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Faster home broadband should be enshrined in law


our way Internet use has changed – and fast. Before the pandemic, telecoms and internet services company BT was handling five terabytes of data every second from its UK customers during the day. When the pandemic hit and the world shut down, the data volume doubled. In Germany, DE-CIX Frankfurt, a major global internet hotspot, broke several bandwidth records as peak volumes for 2020 exceeded 2019 rates by 28%.

One week, the offices of the world were buzzing. After that, they were silent. In the new normal, office workers spend their days hopping from one video conferencing service to another, each one using vital bandwidth. Workplace communication platforms like Slack constantly ping and buzz. Underneath the creak of broadband connections at home.

If the world of work changes overnight, the infrastructure that provides it has developed at a more comfortable pace. But lawmakers are now trying to do something about it. Switzerland is the latest country to decide that its internet infrastructure is too slow, indicating that it will require service providers to offer at least 80 Mbit/s download speeds and 8 Mbit/s upload speeds by 2024, up from 10 and 1 Mbit/s at the time. Present . The Swiss government says a significant increase is needed to ensure people have reliable and fast connections as a standard in order to work from home and keep up with online education.

“With the pandemic, we have all become more aware of the need for a fast and reliable connection,” says Paulo Girley, a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University who has studied the importance of broadband access and is a member of the international community, the Internet Infrastructure Industry Authority. “Both speed and reliability are very important, especially when doing your business from home.”

The amount of data transmitted over internet connections has increased steadily over time: in 2013 the average household in the UK used about 1 gigabyte per day, according to data compiled by British media organization Ofcom. In 2020, it was about 14.3 GB – an increase of 1,330 percent. Over the same time period, the average local download speed increased from 17.8 Mbit/s to 80.2 Mbit/s — an increase of 350 percent. In other words: data volumes have grown much slower than data speed.

This isn’t just bad news for Zoom calls, it’s also bad for the economy. A 2018 study of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries by Pantelis Koutroumpis, Principal Economist at Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, found that increasing broadband speeds from 2 Mbit/s to 8 Mbit/s adds nearly 1 percent to the country’s gross domestic product. In the United Kingdom and the United States, increased broadband speeds led to an annual increase in GDP of about 0.12 percent between 2002 and 2016. This effect was measured before the major shift to working from home due to the pandemic, implying any subsequent increase in productivity Economic growth is likely to be higher. A separate study by Deloitte found that a 10 percentage point increase in broadband access in the United States in 2014 would have increased employment by 875,000, and added $186 billion in economic output by 2019. “The economic impact of internet access on policy makers’ radars for nearly two decades, but its importance has skyrocketed during the pandemic,” says Cotrombes.

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