Author - Alex Mather

DCF Report: Advanced Connectivity Take-Up and Use Cases

In a new report released today by the Digital Connectivity Forum (DCF), titled ‘Advanced Connectivity Take-Up and Use Cases’, crucial insights into the adoption of advanced connectivity in the UK have been unveiled. As the leading advisory body to the UK Government on connectivity, DCF has partnered with Analysys Mason, a prominent TMT consultancy, to delve into the drivers, barriers, and potential applications of advanced broadband technologies. 

The report underscores the importance of fostering widespread adoption of FTTP broadband and leveraging the potential of 5G Standalone (5GSA) technology across various sectors of the economy. 

Through comprehensive analysis and collaboration with 21 surveyed fibre operators, key motivations and obstacles to adoption of FTTP have been identified. Key findings reveal that consumers prioritise speed, price, and reliability when considering advanced connectivity options, reflecting the increasing indispensability of connectivity in modern society. However, a significant barrier lies in the lack of awareness regarding the benefits of FTTP and a perceived absence of necessity among consumers. 

Addressing these challenges head-on, the report recommends the implementation of an information campaign centred around a new cross-industry independent website. This platform will serve as a point of clarity, offering accessible explanations of various broadband technologies and their capabilities in layman’s terms, thereby empowering end-users to make informed decisions. 

Moreover, the report showcases compelling use cases for 5GSA and FTTP connectivity in critical sectors such as agriculture, transport, healthcare, and manufacturing. From virtual coupling of trains to connected ambulances and advanced agricultural techniques like crop phenotyping, the potential for transformative impact is evident. 

To realise these promising use cases, the report advocates for increased trialling of advanced connectivity solutions, alongside proactive government promotion and feasibility assessments aimed at addressing regulatory, operational, and safety challenges. By implementing these recommendations, the UK can unlock the full potential of advanced connectivity, ushering in a new era of prosperity and innovation for the economy and society alike. 

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum said:

“As the rollout of gigabit-capable fixed connectivity accelerates, and 5G standalone rollout gets underway, the importance of ensuring that all parts of the UK society and economy understand and benefit from these transformational forms of connectivity has never been greater. 

”The report shows better understanding and awareness of advanced broadband technologies is essential in enabling the nation to reap the full benefits of these forms of connectivity. 

“We look forward to working with industry as well as government and regulatory stakeholders, to bring these uses into reality.” 

Andrew Daly, Principal Consultant at Analysys Mason, said: 

“Advanced connectivity networks have huge potential to support new use cases, applications and functions that can bring economic social and sustainability benefits to many aspects of everyday lives in the UK. Take-up on these networks is critical to realising these benefits, and greater information for end-users, along with targeted actions for specific industry verticals, are key next steps.” 

The report is available here:

Digital Connectivity Forum’s Climate & Sustainability Work Group endorses JAC supply chain emissions principles and releases results of recent telecoms sustainability survey

As part of the workstream surrounding common data standards, the Digital Connectivity Forum’s Climate & Sustainability Work Group (CSWG) has conducted a survey amongst members regarding the current state of sustainability within the telecoms industry. The results, published as part of techUK’s Climate Action at COP28 Campaign Week 2023, reveal interesting themes as well as clear long term goals.

In addition to conducting this survey, the CSWG will also be endorsing the JAC 10 best practice principles which were released as part of their Achieving Net Zero in the Telecoms Industry: Tackling Supply Chain Emissions report.

The group has chosen to endorse the JAC 10-point principles, which give suppliers to the UK telecoms industry aspirational goals as well as being aligned with other industry work on decarbonisation in the hope that this can be the beginning of dialogue between industry and suppliers towards sector wide decarbonisation.

In addition to their work around common data standards, the DCF Climate and Sustainability Working Group also acknowledges that many smaller suppliers may struggle with climate reporting, and has issued guidance earlier this month to help SMEs get started on net zero action.

You can read the 10 principles below as well as accessing the full report using the link above.

  1. Understand your Carbon Footprint – know how much of your emissions arise from your direct
    operations, energy usage and your wider value chain so that you can focus your action in the right
  2. Have a carbon reduction plan with a clear Net Zero Goal and interim targets with board level
  3. Align your carbon reduction planning to the SBTi standard so that you have a valid science-based
    carbon reduction target across Scope 1, 2, and 3
  4. Where your supply chain emissions are a significant part of your carbon footprint, develop a supply
    chain hot spot analysis so that you know what areas of your supply chain to prioritise engagement
    with, to drive emissions reduction
  5. Maintain LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments) for the products and services you offer so that you can
    identify and address the major opportunities to decarbonise the products you offer. Maintaining
    LCAs is important as your operator customers may ask for LCAs when assessing emissions arising
    from their purchasing of your products
  6. Measure and report your emissions reduction activities following recognised standards like the
    GHG protocol, and ensure you have independent external assurance and verification of your
    methodology and calculations
  7. Use green energy in line with its availability – this is the simplest thing any business can do to reduce
    its emissions
  8. Have goals to improve the power efficiency of the products you offer and your operations, with
    incentives for employees who drive the change
  9. Understand and support the Carbon reduction goals of your customers
  10. Engage with your supply chain to incentivise and help them to reduce their carbon emissions by
    requiring them to address points 1 through to 10

DCF Report: Local Authorities as Connectivity Enablers

The UK’s rollout of gigabit-capable broadband and 5G connectivity would benefit from improvements in communication, collaboration and consistency between local authorities and the telecoms industry, according to a new report published today.

The latest report for the Digital Connectivity Forum (DCF), the leading advisory body to the UK Government on connectivity, by the consultancy FarrPoint, looks at the role of local authorities as enablers of digital connectivity.

The report was the output of interviews with 31 organisations involved in the provision of digital connectivity, including local authorities, fixed and mobile network operators, central and devolved governments, and other regulatory and policy stakeholders.

The analysis finds that improvement is needed in the areas of communication, collaboration and consistency. Contributions to the report indicated that more can be done to improve communication on all sides and that inconsistency is seen across local authorities in terms of their approach to the deployment of digital infrastructure.

The report makes a number of recommendations for policy makers and the industry itself across four areas: communications and engagement; planning; street and roadworks; and local authorities as landlords and site providers. Key recommendations include that:

  • Government should consider requiring local authorities to have a digital champion, with the role both better defined and funded;
  • Local authorities should embrace flexible permitting and that those who are able to should take part in further flexi-permit trials;
  • Government should review planning processes in relation to pre-planning guidance and analyse fees being applied by planning authorities to ensure that digital infrastructure deployment is not held back;
  • Government should undertake a communications programme targeted at local authorities across the UK to ensure that they better understand the full benefits of 5G and gigabit-capable broadband;
  • Local authorities and telecoms operators should work closely together to better educate planning authorities on the technical requirements of 5G and gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure.

The report’s recommendations, if fully implemented, would address many of the remaining obstacles local authorities are experiencing with the deployment of digital connectivity.

The full report can be read here.

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum said: 

“Much positive work has taken place, particularly in the terms of legislative changes, over recent years to reduce barriers to the deployment of high-speed fixed and mobile connectivity. This has resulted in real benefits to UK economy and society, with over 70% of homes across the UK having access to gigabit-capable broadband.

“However, as this report highlights, challenges remain at a local level especially regarding poor communications and collaboration between local authorities and network builders. This is resulting in high levels of variation between local authority areas in terms of their rollout of both fixed and mobile digital infrastructure.”

Steve Smith, Principal Consultant at FarrPoint, said:

“During this study, we spoke to over 26 different local authorities and related organisations from all parts of the UK who are all active in supporting the rollout of digital infrastructure. While conducting these interviews, we noted a number of great digital initiatives and also identified where there are still a few improvements to be made.

“As part of the study recommendations, we highlight that local authorities need to be empowered through more consistent, centralised policies and legislation in order to help them accelerate the connectivity infrastructure rollout and champion innovation. Communication between local authorities, central government and telecom operators is the key component to success, so we would like to see industry and local government openly sharing best practices and simply talking to each other more.”

Report Launch: Local authorities as connectivity enablers – 18/07/23

Following our successful report looking at diversity in the telecoms workforce, we are delighted to be launching the next in our annual body of work. This time we will be focusing on Local Authorities and their roles as enablers of digital connectivity.

The report will explore the challenges remaining at local authority level to the deployment of digital infrastructure, as well as the role that authorities can play in championing the uptake of advanced connectivity in their communities.

The event will feature a presentation from principal consultant, Steve Smith from Farrpoint (the DCF’s partner for this piece of research), alongside a panel featuring a range of expert speakers from industry, government and others where the report’s findings will be discussed in detail.

After the launch there will be a networking drinks reception.

We look forward to seeing you there!


15:30: Welcome – Stephanie Liston (DCF Chair) and Alex Mather (DCF Head)

15:35: Presentation of report and Q&A – Steve Smith (Principal Consultant, FarrPoint)

15:55: Panel and Q&A

  • Stephanie Liston (Chair) – Chair, Digital Connectivity Forum
  • Jesam Eyong – Head of Public Sector Engagement, Barrier Busting Taskforce, DSIT
  • Steve Smith – Principal Consultant, FarrPoint
  • Councillor Mark Hawthorne MBE – Leader of Gloucestershire County Council & LGA Digital Connectivity Spokesperson
  • Jo Swarbrick – Head of Public Affairs, CityFibre
  • Belinda Fawcett – Director of Property and Estates and General Counsel, Cornerstone

16:40: Concluding remarks (DCF Chair)

16:45 onwards: Drinks reception

DCF Report: Diversity in Telecoms

The Digital Connectivity Forum has published a landmark piece of research today, carried out by the leading strategic insight agency Opinium, to assess diversity across the UK telecoms sector.

The snapshot is a pioneering study for the Forum which intends to conduct regular tracking work to assess progress in ensuring a more diverse workforce across the telecoms sector.

The study, which was initiated at the request of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), assessed levels of diversity, including the current state of play across the nine protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The research also looked at attitudes and perceptions amongst the telecoms workforce.

Much work has been carried out in recent years to make the telecoms workforce more representative of that of the UK. However, the report suggests that further action is still needed. Key findings from the research show that:

  • Gender diversity in the sector worsens with age, with 67% of those in the industry over the age of 35 being male.
  • One in six of those working in the telecoms industry has a disability or long-term condition (16%), considerably lower than the proportion of those in the UK workforce who have a disability or condition (26%).
  • Only one in three telecoms employees are aware of their organisations having an active diversity and inclusion culture.

The full report can be read here.

Stephanie Liston, Chair of the Digital Connectivity Forum, said:

“This important research reveals that, despite the progress of recent years, work remains to improve levels of diversity across the telecoms workforce. Having a diverse workforce encourages more creative thinking, drives innovation, and ultimately improves business performance. With a labour market that is increasingly tightened and challenging, it has never been more important for careers in the telecoms sector to appeal to as broad a section of the population as possible.
“While there are multiple positive initiatives across the industry – including those that are working to address the lack of gender diversity amongst telecoms professionals – this study reveals some of the challenges that still remain.
The Digital Connectivity Forum is committed to working collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to build on the industry’s positive work so far. This will include the formation of a new diversity and inclusion work group within the DCF.”

About the Research

The Diversity in Telecoms 2022 research comprised of two stages: quantitative and qualitative.

The quantitative research was conducted between the 3 and 8of August 2022 via an online survey with 504 employees working in the UK telecommunications industry. The survey was not confined to DCF sponsor organisations.

The telecoms sample was compared to nationally representative data for UK workers.

Opiniumtook a natural fallout approach of sampling telecoms employees, meaning that working in telecoms was the only criteria for participating in the research, with other characteristics (such as department) falling out naturally. It is important to caveat that the quantitative sample is unusually skewed to Manager+ levels and is not necessarily representative of the sector as a whole. The authors of the report advise treating the insights in this inaugural report as indicative rather than prescriptive to the sector.

The qualitative stage of research featured in-depth video-enabled interviews with three participants working in the telecoms industry which took place between 2 and 7 November. The interviews then informed the three case studies included in the report.

About Opinium

Opinium is an award-winning strategic insight agency built on the belief that in a world of uncertainty and complexity, success depends on the ability to stay on the pulse of what people think, feel and do. Creative and inquisitive, we are passionate about empowering our clients to make the decisions that matter. We work with organisations to define and overcome strategic challenges – helping them to get to grips with the world in which their brands operate. We use the right approach and methodology to deliver robust insights, strategic counsel and targeted recommendations that generate change and positive outcomes.

DCF Report: The Investment Gap to Full 5G Rollout

The UK is at risk of failing to reap the full benefits of 5G according to a new report published today by the Digital Connectivity Forum, the leading advisory body to UK Government on connectivity. 

The report, The Investment Gap to Full 5G Rollout, written in collaboration with Frontier Economics, examines the capacity of network operators to invest in new high-capacity, high-speed wireless 5G services. 

It finds that the industry can invest approximately £9 billion in new network infrastructure by 2030. It also finds that even this substantial investment falls some way short of the cost of delivering full 5G – estimated by the report to be an additional approximately £23-25 billion. 

The report finds that only this greater level of investment can deliver transformative new services dependent on 5G, such as autonomous vehicles, automated logistics and telemedicine.  

The report also sets out a range of recommendations, from direct support to industry to regulatory and structural reform, which would assist in closing this predicted investment gap and ensuring that the full potential benefits of 5G are realised. 

The full report can be read here.

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum said: 

“If you are using a newer smartphone or tablet in many of the UK’s bigger towns and cities, there’s a high chance that you’re already making use of high-speed, high-capacity 5G. The sector is already re-investing these revenues in more locations and more capacity. 

“But 5G isn’t just faster 4G – it has the ability to unlock innovative new uses and technologies, ranging from autonomous vehicles to advanced remote medical services. These technologies have the potential not only to increase the productivity of the nation and boost UK competitiveness, but also to improve the quality of services that the Government provides. 

“Our research finds that there is a real risk of these revolutionary benefits not being realised. To make a reality of the Government’s levelling up agenda, to boost productivity, growth and competitiveness requires action. We therefore encourage the Government and industry to work together to ensure that intensive and timely investment is delivered.”

Introducing the Digital Connectivity Forum

The Digital Connectivity Forum has launched today. The Forum (or DCF) brings together the biggest players in telecoms infrastructure and content creation aligned to a new vision and mission for the UK’s leading advisory body to government on digital connectivity. The Forum will build upon the work of the Broadband Stakeholder Group with a refreshed identity, vision and mission to actively address the transformed connectivity value chain.

With a redefined vision to ensure the UK has an economy and society empowered by seamless digital connectivity, the Forum has been created after extensive discussion among sponsor members and non-members. In late 2021 and early 2022, the Digital Connectivity Forum Executive convened groups of network operators, equipment manufacturers, ISPs, content producers, broadcasters, business groups, government, regulators and representatives of civil society.

The result is a revamped expert body, with an expanded remit proactively to promote seamless connectivity throughout the UK.  We look forward to working across the entire sector value chain and alongside government and regulators. Together with the existing focus on digital infrastructure, the new Digital Connectivity Forum will develop a distinct technology neutral work programme, concentrating on content demand and network design.

Stephanie Liston, Chair of the Digital Connectivity Forum, said:

“The last two decades have seen a dramatic transformation in the UK’s digital eco-system. Consumers and businesses today enjoy a huge number of internet-enabled services delivered over a variety of networks. Working with industry, government and others we are today launching the Digital Connectivity Forum with an expanded and ambitious agenda to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities of the next 20 years.”

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum, said:

“In the 21 years since the Broadband Stakeholder Group was first formed, the UK has gone from dial-up internet to surging gigabit availability, 5G, satellite and other technologies. In 2001, getting broadband Britain up and running was the focus.  Today, the ambition is seamless, universal digital connectivity, across all technologies and industry sectors. The new Digital Connectivity Forum has a crucial role in realising this greater ambition.  We look forward to proactively engaging with government to advise and inform their policy decisions.”

“As the range and diversity of services delivered via the internet has ballooned, the relationship between infrastructure and content has become more central. We want to deliver a new focus on content and distribution while continuing to facilitate discussions on delivery of better infrastructure. New working groups for each will help us to address this challenge.”

Telecoms industry agrees to new cost-of-living plan

The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators have agreed to a raft of new commitments to further help customers with the rising cost of living following a government-led summit at No 10 Downing Street.

These include measures such as allowing customers struggling with bills to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans, and options to improve existing low cost offers and increasing promotion of existing deals.

The measures, put forward by the government in consultation with the industry, will ensure people struggling with bills due to the economic aftermath of the pandemic and war in Ukraine can continue to make calls, send texts and get online. More information is available here.

New Digital Strategy unveiled

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp has launched the government’s Digital Strategy aimed at making the UK “a global tech superpower”. Among the document’s commitments are welcome restated goals for gigabit broadband, 4G availability and rural connectivity, although the existing 5G target may need an upgrade. It is interesting to note that the Strategy now defines the 2030 gigabit coverage target as being ‘at least 99%’ – previously this had been described as ‘nationwide’.

Another welcome feature of the Strategy is its focus on investment, although it would have been good to see digital infrastructure alongside start-ups and scale-ups. Digital infrastructure, so vital for the rest of government’s ambitions, needs huge investment ahead of consumer demand.

Alongside the Digital Strategy, the government also published and/or updated a number of other related policy statements. These included the Data Strategy and the Plan for Digital Regulation.