TheUK Department for Culture, Media & Sport released today a report on the benefits of superfast broadband in the UK. In this blog, Jonathan Liebenau from LSE Tech offers initial thoughts on the study’s general scope, its usefulness and limitations and raises questions for further analysis.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport published today a study by SQW consulting of the impact of increases since 2008 of fixed broadband attributable to the current set of publicly funded interventions to improve quality and coverage. Using data from a variety of sources relating to both the broad economic context of internet use and specific characteristics such as supposed productivity effects and multiplier assumptions, it provides an optimistic view of the UK up to 2024.
The report’s claims of beneficial effects on the environment, society and the economy are predicated on careful trends analysis and numerous well-informed assumptions. There are numerous limitations to the study, which I will comment on in a future blog. Some of these stem from the self-imposed constraints of the investigations such as the focus on the expenditure of public funds, the exclusion of expensive business connectivity services, and significantly, taking no consideration at all of mobile services. Some limitations are inherent in the methodology and some from the perception of technological impacts generally, such as the effect on reduced travel and the advantages accrued from utilizing cloud computing.
The report makes an effort to take into account jobs lost as well as jobs gained from the impacts of broadband, and points out, appropriately, that if there is a significant digital divide then it may be that the jobs lost in some areas will not be entirely replaced by gains elsewhere. Lag times are taken into account, with the appropriate provision for longer lag times for small businesses.
There may be slightly excessive optimism in the report’s assumptions about the productivity gains likely for small businesses, given that we know they are not only slow to adopt and unwilling to invest in ICT proportionately, they are also less likely to be able to benefit from advanced or specialized services. In my further analysis I will consider this part of the analysis, as well as the extent to which provision for sectoral differences are adequate when split into only six broad industrial groups.
This post first appeared in the LSE Media and Policy blog. This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the London School of Economics.
About the author
Jonathan Liebenau – LSE Management Department
Dr Jonathan Liebenau is a Reader in Technology Management, LSE. He Specializes in fundamental concepts of information, and the problems and prospects of ICT in economic development. Previously worked in academic administration, technology policy, and the economic history of science-based industry, all positions in which he has emphasised the use of information in organizations. He is the author or editor of a dozen books and over 70 other major publications. He has provided consultancy services to leading companies and strategic government agencies, including Dell, BT, IBM, Microsoft, TCS, Nortel, EDS, Lloyd Thompson, and in the UK Government, the Office of Science and Innovation, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Home Office.