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UK's Digital Growth Held Back by Poor Connectivity

Article date: Wed, 02 May 2012 10:15 GMT

UK's Digital Growth Held Back

Government intervention to boost the country's connectivity is crucial if the UK is to stand a chance of competing economically with the likes of Scandinavia and Japan.

As the UK approached a double dip recession, a panel of business and technology experts lamented the lack of interest shown by Government in investing in web connectivity in the UK. Experts agreed that a better understanding from the ruling parties of the importance of a fast and reliable network could change the country's fortunes for the better.

Asked how the digital wallet and mobile commerce could play a role in resuscitating the UK economy, Hosein Moghaddas, chief business officer at Mobile Money Market said: "The Government has an inherent responsibility to get us all connected with high-speed wifi and that means investment in infrastructure. I believe we should be lobbying government for this. It should be a given."

Jennifer Hiley, senior account director for We Love Mobile, agreed the UK is playing catch up despite consumers demanding a multichannel retail experience across the board. She suggested that making it simpler for people to spend their money could help shake the country out of the recession.

"The digital wallet is all about convenience for consumers. Whatever we can do to make everything easier to buy is good. We need to be able to browse the internet on the underground and we are getting closer to being able to do that but we need to make progress quickly."

However Lawrence Jones, CEO of hosting specialist UKFast warned that businesses should prepare themselves to cope with the increased amounts of traffic that a faster network would create.

Jones said: "The key thing is that when nations become much more connected, people have access to internet services at all times. Businesses need to be correctly prepared to be able to cater for that.

"Business continuity issues, such as back-up and replication of lots of data, use a lot of sideways traffic. Businesses need to find inventive ways to manage sideways traffic that don't impact on their internet traffic and the experience for the user.

"UKFast has set up a separate back-up network to handle clients' sideways traffic, freeing up a firm's main internet highway. As bandwidth gets better, businesses need to get better at managing that kind of traffic or they won't be able to cope."

Ronnie Brown, managing partner of digital marketing agency, Quirk, said connectivity is not the main barrier to the growth of the digital wallet or the digital economy.

"The bigger barriers are the inertia of existing human behaviour and trust. Both will be eroded over time. Connectivity in most UK urban areas is OK."

He continued: "But the government could take the lead and ensure that wi-fi and other types of connectivity are available widely and cheaply. This would help stimulate the economy per se and encourage more innovation in the sector. I've had experience of Korea where connectivity is widespread and very fast."

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