Universal broadband would mean unlocking a forty billion euro opportunity for European businesses

October 21, 2014   |   Oliver Johnson

The results of the latest research conducted by Point Topic and Adroit Economics points to a Euro40bn opportunity for the SMEs in Europe by the end of the decade.  Extending work recently conducted for the European Commission BRESAT project has revealed significant potential for growth and productivity.

“Today broadband is an indispensable tool for governments, businesses and populations in any part of Europe.  The benefits that accrue and the services that are enabled by broadband are legion.  Working with Adroit we have applied the increasing amount of quantitative data available across our unique broadband map of Europe,” says Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive at Point Topic.

To date quantifying those benefits has been problematic.  The rapid deployment and constant upgrades for broadband and the services it enables has made tracking the specific areas of uplift let alone quantifying them difficult.

“We’ve been collating data and case studies on broadband for a few years now.  The weight of evidence has reached the stage where we can, with increasing confidence, state not only the type and source of the uplift but also quantify it in terms of Gross Value Added,” says Dr Steve Sheppard, MD of Adroit Economics.*

For business the more downstream bandwidth that is available the more that can be accomplished but the data is now pointing to a requirement for plenty of upstream bandwidth too.  Being able to video conference comfortably, exchange large amounts of data and take advantage of a multitude of other services has a significant impact on the GVA available.

Many markets are doing well in exploiting the potential of broadband.  We can see from the data that member states like Luxembourg, Netherlands and even the UK are ahead of the game.

eu gva impact

Projected impact of universal broadband

“That doesn’t mean anyone can rest easy, there’s always more to go for and we’re not sure that we’ve yet identified all the positives that derive from improved broadband.  Countries like France and Germany however, along with much of mainland Europe, have plenty of headroom that they should look to exploit as quickly as possible.  If you’re looking for a way to improve your economy then broadband offers an impressive return and brings more wealth and jobs per euro invested than almost any other project,” says Sheppard.

The key to unlocking this potential is three types of speed.

Bandwidth is vital, it is projected many SMEs will be asking for 250Mbps and more by 2020.  Upstream bandwidth is also very important and the evidence suggests the closer to symmetry you can get the better as far as businesses are concerned.

Just as important though are the speed of deployment and take-up. The demand exists as do many of the services but the coverage is key.  If 30Mbps down and at least 10Mbps up can be deployed  across Europe today then we’ll start to reap the benefits almost immediately.

The team will shortly be publishing results for the expected impact on households as well as farms another vital sector for Europe.

“We also need to ensure that companies and individuals have the skills and knowledge to take these services and use them, education is vital if we are to grasp this opportunity. Broadband should be at the forefront of policy makers minds across the continent,” says Johnson.

* Gross Value Added – the best measure of overall wealth creation in an economy

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