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BUDGET 2020 Where telemedia in the UK may make some gains

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The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer today delivered his first budget and telecoms and telemedia value added services got a surprising boost.

Digital publications boost

First up, he has cut VAT on digital publications, including newspapers, books and academic journals to zero from December. This should see an increased up-take in their sale and open up the UK market to even more subscribers and one off readers of online publishing content.

This is great news for the publishing and content industries, but could also prove to be a boost to carrier billing providers looking to offer a payment solution for quick and ready consumption of content on the mobile.

With cheaper magazines and publications online, more consumers are likely to delve in. With no VAT, everyone in the value chain in turn could make more money.

The cut in VAT should also encourage more people to produce digital publishing content, making for a bigger market for telemedia companies to target.

Broadband boost

The chancellor also pledged to give UK broadband – one of the laggards of Europe – a boost, with £5bn to be spent on getting gigabit-capable broadband into the hardest-to-reach places

In his budget speech, Sunak promised super-fast broadband and access to 4G for 95% of the UK. Mark Pocock, home comms expert at www.broadbandchoices.co.uk, comments: “The £5 billion investment into ensuring gigabit-capable broadband is available in the most hard-to-reach places of the UK is said to happen by 2025. If the Government reaches this target, it will help more than five million homes and businesses, but there will still be a lot of new housing estates on hard-to-reach areas and a lot of new homeowners will have to struggle with limited signal within this time. However, the reality is that broadband should be up to standards before anyone moves in – both in terms of availability and in terms of speed.”

Pocock adds” “It is great to hear that a lot more people in the UK are being thought of in this case as the Government sets out to offer £1 billion to make sure we are all better connected by boosting our 4G coverage to as much as 95% of the UK. But with the introduction of the new 5G technology, will many even be using the 4G network for much longer? It will be interesting to see what changes and stays the same for broadband when the Autumn budget comes around.”

The need to invest in UK broadband is now quite crucial, says Kevin O’Donnell, European Business Manager, VIAVI Solutions. “The UK’s broadband connectivity has really needed a shot in the arm for some time. In terms of the percentage of population with access to Gigabit internet, the UK is in thirtieth place globally, according to our own research. The UK has been punching well below its weight. Currently, only around 11% of the British population have access to Gigabit speeds. The country lags behind nations such as Moldova, Qatar and France.”

He continues: “The UK has being lagging behind the rest of Europe for superfast broadband, such as FTTH, being available to the public especially in rural areas where the cost of delivering superfast broadband is high. There has been intense work over the past 18 months by the UK telecoms industry to change that, and progress is now happening at a good pace. Public investment in UK broadband is a welcome further stimulus to not only make the UK economy stronger, but to also make UK businesses more competitive on the European and global stage as technology, and specifically superfast broadband, is a key business enabler.”

O’Donnell concludes: “The budget statement is also welcome news to the whole business ecosystem that supports UK telecom providers, such as the FTTH and wireless contractor companies that support the installation and maintenance of the superfast broadband networks.”

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