Very high capacity broadband networks are crucial for enabling interconnection between areas, industries and people.

They facilitate interaction, collaboration, trade and the social and economic benefits that come with them. In today’s connected world, having up-to-date and future-proof digital and telecommunications infrastructure is a key strategic priority for the UK government.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) believes that local governments play a pivotal role in working with the telecoms industry to enable the UK in both its current and future connectivity needs. BSG has previously commissioned research into how local authorities can best engage with operators, but now they are helping to answer the question, ‘why?’

BSG commissioned Oxera to develop a framework, that local authorities could use to understand the economic benefits of very high capacity networks such as full-fibre and 5G and what they mean for their locality. The benefits of the deployment of the next-generation technologies are both direct and indirect to the authority.

Our analysis found that the next generation of fixed and mobile telecommunications networks will bring substantial technological and service-quality improvements over previous generations.

Existing businesses can expect to benefit from business expansion and an increase in turnover per worker of up to 3.8% p.a. as a result of enhancements to productivity. Meanwhile, business activity in local areas could increase by up to 3.2% overall as a result of improved connectivity. This in turn would improve the labour market, increasing employment by between 0.6% and 1.7%.

Businesses would not be the only beneficiaries. Wider society and private consumers would benefit too, alongside the broader benefits to the local authorities.

Local authorities, businesses and individuals operating, living and working in their local area stand to experience significant advantages from greater access to very high capacity networks, including full-fibre and 5G. While these new networks may lead to some short-term disruption, the economic and social benefits that could be realised should provide local authorities with the motivation to support and cooperate with operators and to help remove any barriers to infrastructure roll-out.