2015 Budget places technology at its core

Billy D’Arcy, Managing Director, O2 Public Sector

On the 18th March 2015, Chancellor of the Exchequer- the Rt Hon George Osborne MP- gave his eagerly awaited pre-election Budget in the House of Commons. In a speech that lasted just over an hour, what was really striking was the way in which the Chancellor outlined the investment in new and existing technology as pivotal to Britain’s future. It was clear from both Mr Osborne’s speech and the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP’s reply that both parties recognise that the digital infrastructure of Britain, and ensuring it maintains its place as the global hub of developing technology such as the Internet of Things, are central to the growth of the British economy.

The ‘comprehensive strategy’ Mr Osborne outlined revolved around connecting British businesses with superfast broadband to enable organisations to work effectively and people to stay connected wherever they are. This sentiment is very much aligned to our strategy as a digital telecommunications provider and particularly with our own roll out of 4G. Our 4G network now covers 408 towns and cities, and by 2017 we have committed to Ofcom to have the UK’s largest data network with 98% indoor population coverage- the only network to do so. Further investment from the government to clear new spectrum bands will only serve to see Britain increasingly become the country of ‘connectedness’.

And with connectedness comes great leaps in new technology, and a real step change in what we perceive to be ‘digital’. In the next five years this will be most evident in the evolution of the Internet of Things. While jokes about connecting multiple kitchens with a mobile phone serve as humorous headline grabbers, the technology behind this is set to become a part of our daily lives. Already today there are over 9 billion connected devices in the world, and numbers are set to continue to grow to 50 billion by 2020. With insight on 24 million UK customers and a historic smart metering contract, Telefónica are at the forefront of the IoT revolution. I was particularly pleased to hear of the specific investment of £100 million for driverless technology, an exciting area I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand through Telefónica partnership with Tesla and in Greenwich through the GATEway project. More and more, technology like this will become an inherent and ingrained part of everything we do.

Although the evolution and expansion of these technologies appears to be inevitable over the coming years, there growth is only fuelled by the needs of citizens and businesses to operate more effectively and efficiently through digital means. Customers are increasingly demanding ubiquitous connectivity, and as a digital communications provider it is our job to work with those in the corridors of power to ensure we meet those demands. Mr Osborne’s budget not only outlined investment in new technology, but acted as a signal of intent that Britain is at the heart of the digital revolution, and that is where it intends to remain.

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