Author - Katie Lester

Report Summary: DCF launches new report focusing on Advanced Connectivity Take-Up and Use Cases

On Tuesday 19th March, the Digital Connectivity Forum launched its latest report, ‘Advanced Connectivity Take-Up and Use Cases’, produced by leading TMT Management consultancy, Analysys Mason. 

The Report

The report considers drivers, barriers, and potential applications of advanced broadband technologies, as well as potential policy interventions and support for the enablement of advanced connectivity for all. 

A key recommendation was the implementation of an information campaign centred around a new cross-industry independent website. By offering clear, accessible explanations of the various broadband technologies and their capabilities to consumers, the aim is to provide clarity to consumers, allowing them to understand and choose the right service for their needs. 

Alongside take-up and barriers the report considers use cases for 5GSA and FTTP connectivity. Considering critical sectors such as agriculture, transport, healthcare, and manufacturing. These use cases cover a broad range of areas within these topics, highlighting the potential for transformative impact across society. These include: 

  • virtual coupling of trains 
  • connected ambulances 
  • advanced agricultural techniques like crop phenotyping 

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. 

You can read the full reports by clicking here for take up and here for use cases. 

The Launch

Our launch commenced with opening comments from Head of the DCF, Alex Mather before handing over to Principal Consultant with Analysys Mason, Andrew Daly.  

Andrew gave two presentations over the course of the afternoon, looking at both the take up and the use case elements. These included results from the 22 surveyed FTTP providers on:  

  • Network coverage and take-up 
  • drivers and success stories 
  • barriers and policy initiatives 

As well as contextual information such as whether they are urban/rural in focus, a wholesale/retail operator, as well as their scale. 

The survey found that the top three drivers listed by operators were: 

  • Download speed 
  • Price 
  • Reliability 

The main barriers identified by respondents included a perception that their current broadband is sufficient, as well as low awareness of the capability of FTTP. Consumers’ existing broadband contracts were also cited by operators as a barrier. However, it should be noted that contracts are a feature of the UK market which help with revenue assurance and investment recovery. 

Andrew highlighted that the survey found that operators had expressed support for information campaigns as the most effective policy option to encourage FTTP take-up. 

He then outlined the report’s key recommendation: an information campaign built around a new cross-industry independent website. He added that this website could incorporate  

  • non-jargon explanations covering the full range of broadband technologies (including benefits and capabilities) 
  • use of visuals or graphics where possible to encourage better understanding (for example how the availability of networks will change in the future) 
  • Information on how to switch providers (for example the OTS regime) 
  • Information on digital skills training and digital champions. 

Andrew then moved onto the second part of the report on use cases, that utilise the capabilities of advanced connectivity networks. Highlighting the benefits that these could provide. 

These covered both 5G standalone (5G SA) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). The use cases that were identified were noted for their clear benefits, short to medium term time scale and lack of clear alternative approach. An additional focus was that of having a clear commercial and/or policy rationale underpinning them. 

In total six use cases were identified for inclusion within the report: 

  • Remote health monitoring 
  • Connected ambulances 
  • Advanced connectivity in railways 
  • Electric vehicle charging 
  • Remote monitoring of industrial equipment 
  • Crop phenotyping 

Examples of benefits within these included wearables and in-home sensors to provide patient monitoring, automatic uplink of healthcare visitor data, remote video consultation allowing for less mobile, or more remote, patients better access to prompt, quality care. 

The report estimates a potential 5% social care saving (representative of £890 million).  

Other highlighted uses included vibration, electrical and other types of sensor monitoring within machinery to increase efficiency in manufacturing. This sensor data could be utilised to detect patterns which indicate wear, as well as mitigating possible future failure.  

This advance knowledge could support preventative maintenance, minimising downtime. Network reliability was noted as a key element of changing industrial processes, meaning that the reliability presented by FTTP is of critical importance within this transformation. 

Following Andrew’s presentations, the DCF were delighted to welcome two panels of expert voices to the stage to discuss each half of the report’s findings in detail. The panels were chaired by DCF chair, Stephanie Liston and featured: 

  • Jesam Eyong, Head of Public Sector Engagement, Barrier Busting Task Force, DSIT 
  • Richard Feasey, Inquiry Chair, Competition and Markets Authority 
  • James King, Policy Principal, Ofcom 
  • Bronagh McCloskey, Head of Public Affairs and Corporate Sustainable Responsibility, TalkTalk 

Discussing Advanced Connectivity Take-Up and covering their thoughts on the identified drivers and barriers towards adoption and how providers and industry can come together to remove or improve these; as well as their thoughts on the overall call for a cross industry website/information campaign.  

Joining the use cases panel we were very happy to welcome: 

  • Andrew Daly, Principal Consultant, Analysys Mason 
  • Patricia Dooley, Head of UK Strategy and Public Affairs, Ericsson 
  • Jonathan Freeman, Strategic Growth and Regulatory Director, Cellnex UK 
  • Chris Parkinson, Senior Government Affairs Manager, Vodafone 

The audience heard the panel’s views on how far away they feel we are from seeing these use cases translated into reality, as well as what they see as the key enabler in bringing these use cases to fruition. The panel noted the relevance of the report’s findings as we approach almost one year on from the publication of the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. 

The event concluded with closing remarks from DCF chair, Stephanie Liston before networking drinks. 

We hope you enjoyed the launch, if you were not able to join us but have any questions regarding the report, please contact us.

Shaping society: Advanced connectivity for now and tomorrow

Connectivity is an integral part of modern daily life. Since the release of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1991 (the internet’s official birthday is generally considered to be January 1983) digital connectivity has seen a staggering increase in global speed, leaving an almost unrecognisable landscape in its wake.  

Between 1991 and 2022 the world witnessed changes from 14kbit/s (0.0145Mbps) to 100mbit/s (12.5MBps) across worldwide average, and global speed trends are still growing. It is estimated by up to 20% per year. 

In 2024, this has left some consumers asking, ‘why do I need more?’, ‘what is the point of super advanced connectivity?’. This may well be true. It presents valid questions to consider when the recommended speed for streaming TV is 1.5Mbps for regular streaming, or 5-8Mbps for HD video. 

So, with less of us facing the buffering wheel as we watch our favourite programmes, what are the wider implications and uses of high-speed ultra-low latency connectivity, and why should we care? 

The answers are far reaching and surprising. The power of these use cases poses an exciting ability to transform societies; fuelling economies and driving progress. 

The Digital Connectivity Forum had the opportunity to visit BT’s research and development centre at Adastral Park earlier this month as part of the work on an upcoming project focusing on FTTP take up and use cases for 5G standalone and FTTP. As part of this we were guided through their technology showcase rooms. These covered areas such as: 

  • Defence 
  • Security 
  • Health 
  • Retail 
  • Home 
  • Industry  
  • and Smart World and Cities

These showed the real-life benefits of high-speed ultra-low latency connectivity. But what are some examples? 


Aside from the obvious benefits of greater levels of homeworking having wide reaching effects, ranging from increased access to quality talent for companies, greater work/life balance for employees and decreased commuting emissions. Advanced connectivity presents further opportunities for technology in the home.  

These could range from home monitoring for patients using connected medical devices, connected home technology that allows for greater remote control of the home, or helping to safeguard elderly or vulnerable users via integrated AI home systems. Allowing them to retain independence whilst providing peace of mind to their loved ones. 


Advanced Connectivity has already proven itself as a powerful tool for the equitable availability of quality healthcare access. In addition to this, connected devices and sensors make it possible to monitor patients at home in real time. This critical information could be transformative in treating those with chronic illnesses. Improving both quality of treatment and resource efficiency. 

Digitisation and improved effectiveness to the flow of data will also be instrumental in improving resource use and maximising efficiency. 

Smart Cities

Smart cities run on data, and this can be facilitated with high powered, fast connectivity. The benefits of this could result in the improvement of quality of life and delivery of services for its residents.  

When devices connect, they serve as both a user and a provider of critical information. This could be used to monitor elements such as footfall (how busy is somewhere right now, helping people make informed travel choices), parking availability (live updates minimising wasted journeys and providing critical information on whether current infrastructure is suitable to support city needs) and traffic levels and flow (this could build information regarding congestion, emissions, and air quality). 

The DCF’s upcoming report: Advanced Connectivity take-up and use cases

The Digital Connectivity Forum’s report will investigate take up levels of FTTP, as well as 5G standalone and FTTP’s use in a flourishing, future thinking society. The project will feature analysis of FTTP deployment, including key barriers and drivers of adoption, as well as the consideration of potential policy interventions. 

In addition to this it will look at 5G Standalone and FTTP use cases, conducting an overview of a small select number of use cases to demonstrate how 5GSA and FTTP connectivity could be utilised in specific sectors of the economy, including manufacturing and agriculture. 

The report will launch in March this year and form part of the DCF’s exciting plan of 2024 activity.  

Digital Connectivity Forum launches Net Zero: Guidance for SMEs in the telecoms sector

The Digital Connectivity Forum is delighted today to be launching our latest piece of work: ‘Net Zero: Guidance for SMEs in the telecoms sector’.

With telecoms in the UK connecting 97% of homes and being used by 44.6 million customers daily; connectivity has become essential to our lives, whether that involves remote working, socialising or consuming content.

SMEs currently represent 99% of UK businesses, forming a vast proportion of the UK economy and will play a key role achieving the UK’s 2050 net zero goals.

As a result of this pivotal space occupied by telecoms and the importance of SMEs, the DCF’s Climate & Sustainability Work Group, formed earlier this year, selected SME engagement as a focus point for 2023.

As a result, and in collaboration both with its members and numerous SMEs from across the telecoms industry, they have produced the Net Zero: Guidance for SMEs in the telecoms sector document in the hope of driving positivity and progress across the industry.

This guidance, aimed specifically at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the telecoms sector, includes easy to follow guides on how to calculate carbon footprint, as well as how to set a credible carbon reduction goal.

In addition to this it provides practical solutions for SMEs looking to reduce their emissions and make a positive impact on the environment, helping to create a sustainable future for telecoms.

Other key information includes where to access funding, offering valuable insights into resources and real-life examples of SMEs turning climate action into business opportunities. With this step by step information and coordinated links to valuable resources, the guidance supports SMEs taking aim at a more sustainable future.

A study last year of UK Small Businesses found that 91% felt overwhelmed and did not know where to start when it came to tackling emissions and creating a robust and sustainable approach to their business. With this in mind the Digital Connectivity Forum’s Climate & Sustainability Work Group targeted SME Engagement as one of their key 2023 workstreams.

As a result of this I am pleased to be launching this Telco SME Net Zero Guidance in collaboration with the DCF’s Work Group and its members. With SMEs representing 99% of UK businesses, they form the engine of the UK economy and will be vital in achieving the UK’s 2050 net zero goals.

I would like to thank the SMEs, industry members and stakeholders that have contributed their time and effort to producing this guidance, which we hope will go on to empower change. As always, I am delighted by the enthusiasm and support for the DCF’s working group on climate issues and look forward to continuing the mission of a more sustainable telecoms industry.

Will Ennett, Head of Sustainability, TalkTalk and chair of the Climate & Sustainability Work Group

The DCF is delighted to launch our new climate guidance for small and medium-sized telecoms enterprises. The UK telecoms sector is a thriving and competitive one, including hundreds of smaller participants. It is therefore essential that all parts of the industry commit to taking action to decarbonize to ensure that the maximum potential impact is realized

Alex Mather, Head of the DCF

Digital Connectivity Forum set to launch Telco SME Guidance focusing on Net Zero

The Digital Connectivity Forum is delighted to announce the launch event of their Climate Guidance for SME’s in the telco industry.

Earlier this year, the Digital Connectivity Forum launched their Climate & Sustainability Work Group (CSWG). This group provides a platform for the facilitation of UK Telecoms collaboration, enabling the acceleration of individual and industry path(s) towards net zero.

As part of this ongoing work the CSWG have created a climate guidance aimed at SME’s in the telco industry, recognising that small and medium sized enterprises represent 99% of British business and will play a critical role in carbon footprint reduction for the sector.

The guidance reviews ways in which SME’s can design and implement their carbon reductions targets as well as detailing the benefits of doing so and signposting towards helpful resources and information on funding and incentives.

We are delighted to be launching this guidance on 14 November in Central London, with a hybrid joining option also available. The event will begin with a short presentation, followed by a panel of expert voices discussing key points of the guidance as well as questions surrounding net zero and SME engagement. The afternoon will conclude with networking drinks.

If you would like to join us for the event you can learn more and sign up here.

DCF Launches new Local Authorities as Connectivity Enablers Report – Event Summary

On 18th July, the Digital Connectivity Forum (DCF) launched its latest report: Local Authorities as Digital Connectivity Enablers. The report launch took place in London at the offices of techUK and was opened by the DCF Chair, Stephanie Liston before Alex Mather, Head of the DCF, gave some opening remarks. This was then followed by a presentation by Steve Smith, Principal Consultant at FarrPoint. 

At a time when much has been done to reduce barriers to the deployment of high-speed fixed and mobile connectivity, both Government and infrastructure companies continue to strive towards the ambitious coverage targets for 2025-2030. Despite many legislative changes in recent years, which has contributed to over 70% of homes across the UK having access to gigabit capable broadband, there remain many challenges at local level; including poor communication and collaboration between local authorities and industry, issues around planning and a lack of consistency of approach across the UK. This discrepancy is leading to prominent levels of variation between local authority areas regarding rollout and access to high-speed connectivity. 

The report, conducted by leading digital consultancy, FarrPoint, identifies and discusses these challenges and is the product of interviews with 31 organisations who are involved in the provision of digital connectivity. These included local authorities, fixed and mobile network operators, central and devolved governments, and other regulatory and policy stakeholders. 

From this, four main themes arose. These were communication & engagement, planning, street & roadworks and local authorities as landlords and site providers. In total the report makes 27 recommendations that, if adopted across the board could address many of the remaining obstacles that local authorities are experiencing with the deployment of digital connectivity. 

Communication and Engagement 

Conclusions around communication & engagement included a clear indication of the necessity for a Digital Champion installed across all local authorities as well as the importance of a clear local digital strategy. It was also acknowledged that ubiquitous adoption of Digital Champions is not without challenge as many local authorities continue to operate with high workloads and highly constrained funding. 

Other key conclusions included a need for improved education within local authorities about digital infrastructure, in tandem with education for the public on the wider benefits that this infrastructure and connectivity brings to help mitigate public concerns. Communication between local authorities and industry remains a key area for improvement, which has the potential to offer real value in terms of improving the overall process of rollout. It was also identified that improvements could be made in terms of communication between different parts of central government as well as clearly defining the stakeholder roles and responsibility to facilitate direct and open conversation. 

The thirteen recommendations which focused on engagement & communication centred around:  

  • Supporting the role of Digital Champions across all local authorities 
  • Considering how communication with local authorities could be enhanced​ 
  • Developing clear guidance on how all parties could improve communications​ 
  • Increasing digital infrastructure deployment knowledge within local authorities to aid​ decision making​ 
  • Ensuring local policies and plans are aligned with national objectives 


Conclusions within planning centred around improving consistency across nations and regions, with a wider consideration of local benefits in the planning process, alongside better feedback for rejected applications. It was noted that planning guidance should, and must, keep pace with technology developments and that updated, and increasingly aligned planning guidance would help accelerate deployment. It was also understood that planning resources are constrained and communication with the public could also help to ease the process, for example a better understanding of the product and not only its direct consumer benefits but wider societal ones could help bridge the gap between public, local authority and industry. 

Six recommendations within the subject of planning were made. These were to: 

  • Urgently review and update planning regulations in Northern Ireland ​ 
  • Improve consistency of pre-planning processes​ 
  • Develop best practice guidance on planning applications​ 
  • Review and update the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development Scotland) Act​ 
  • Undertake analysis to identify trends in planning application rejections to inform future guidance and/or policy​ 

Street & Roadworks 

When considering street & roadworks the key conclusion was that variation in noticing and permitting schemes is the largest barrier to deployment with a lack of standards as an area that can cause issues. Within this it was also remarked that regulations could better reflect digital infrastructure requirements as well as improved coordination between both Highways and Operators. There was a general feeling that the adoption of flexible permitting should be increased alongside an improvement in the sharing of infrastructure. 

Six recommendations were made in this area. They included: 

  • Promote adoption of flexible permits to local authorities, including future trials​ 
  • Improve consistency of approach to managing street works across the UK​ 
  • Increase early engagement with local authorities during the deployment planning process​ 
  • Instigate improvement programmes with subcontractors to increase confidence within local authorities​ 
  • Investigate the potential benefits within local authorities of adopting a flexible permits approach 

Local Authorities as Landlords & Site Providers 

Finally, when considering local authorities as landlords & site providers key conclusions were that the use of public assets is varied, with the role of agents as intermediaries requiring consideration and potential reform. Overall, there is a willingness for public assets to be used for deployment and conversations should take place in a constructive and open way to maximise the opportunity for this. 

There were two recommendations in this area which looked at: 

  • Ensuring accurate asset data is available to interested parties, and that the focus is on the wider benefits resulting from digital connectivity rather than revenue generation​ 
  • Facilitating access to public sector assets (land, rooftops, and street furniture) and utilising standard templates and guidance for negotiation of agreements​ 

Panel discussion 

A panel of expert speakers, providing perspectives from across industry, central government, and local government, then followed Steve’s presentation. Speakers included chair of the panel and of the DCF, Stephanie Liston; Jesam Eyong, DSIT; Belinda Fawcett, Cornerstone; Councillor Mark Hawthorne MBE, LGA; Jo Swarbrick, CityFibre and Steve Smith, FarrPoint. 

The panel began with Jesam Eyong, Head of Public Sector Engagement, Barrier Busting Taskforce, DSIT, offering DSIT’s perspective on the report. He outlined that the Department commends the overall tone and positioning of the report in setting out local authorities as enablers of digital connectivity; acknowledging that no local authorities set out to block progress. He added that this framing had laid good foundations for constructive, positive cooperation between local authorities and industry. In addition to this, it was discussed that it is interesting, and positive, to note that recommendations span across all stakeholders within the process, rather than pinning the task of change upon one specific area.  

Jesam remarked that it is encouraging that the report holds nothing which shocks DSIT, meaning that it contains items which are ready to be enacted, if not already in progress or in planning (such as ongoing work into flexi-permitting trials). 

Overall DSIT welcomed the report and encourages those with questions to contact them. They also encourage that local authorities speak to their highways teams to learn more about flexi permits. 

Jesam also highlighted that government is planning a series of upcoming webinars broadly in line with the four themes highlighted in the report and encourages those with interest to enquire about these. 

Belinda Fawcett, Director of Property and Estates and General Counsel, Cornerstone then gave her thoughts on the report. She commented that herself and Cornerstone welcome the positive nature of the report and its highlighting of the importance of local authorities within connectivity – recognising them as key players within rollout. Recognition was also given to the resistance that can be caused through lack of understanding, which lends particular pertinence to the report’s calls for increased communication and education between all involved parties. As part of this increased communication there is an opportunity for better engagement to work towards balancing the positive impact of infrastructure against the visual drawback it can have within areas – often a point of contention between providers and residents. 

The call for Digital Champions was welcomed, with interest in the suggestion of industry digital champions or single points of contact to complement local authority counter parts. Overall, it was felt that the report emphasises the importance of cohesion and coordination between industry and local authorities to work together to solve issues in a direct and non-legal way. 

Councillor Mark Hawthorne MBE, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council & LGA Digital Connectivity Spokesperson, next gave his views from a local government perspective. He welcomed the report and noted, alongside DSIT, that there was nothing particularly new or surprising within it. Councillor Hawthorne noted that the key recommendation within the report was digital champions, with a separate note that funding would need to be provided for these digital champions to enable stretched local authorities to be able to deliver these positions across the country.  

It was noted that all four of the key themes involve different departments and improvements across all areas can be built through understanding and communication. To generate this cohesion, local authorities must be bought back into the involvement of processes, enabling them to view digital infrastructure as an investment rather than a generator of community and industry complaints. 

Jo Swarbrick, Head of Public Affairs at CityFibre, gave a fixed operator’s perspective to the panel. Jo welcomed the report and stated that he was encouraged by the positive, rather than adversarial, stance it had taken. In particular, CityFibre advocated the role of Digital Champions, agreeing the value they hold for a provider when tasked with the remit and responsibility to join up the different areas involved with rollout. 

Alongside Digital Champions there was focus on the various planning points raised, with comment that slow planning is delaying rollout and better communication between local authorities and industry will be vital in assisting this issue, alongside potential government intervention to improve planning application ease. 

CityFibre highlighted the value that flexi permits represent to providers, citing permitting as a substantial barrier. If widely adopted, flexi permits could create a better flow of continuous rollout as well as smoothing day to day contact between operators, highways, and local authorities.  

Finally, Steve Smith, Principal Consultant at FarrPoint gave his closing remarks to the panel, advocating for a non-adversarial stance between industry and local authority and highlighting the necessity for improvement to keep pace across the whole of the UK, rather than some areas being left behind. To achieve this a coordinated and considered approach will be required. Steve highlighted that more talking is the most positive first step and that from that the remaining issues can begin to be addressed. Steve concluded that he, and FarrPoint, are hopeful that many of the recommendations can be considered and hopefully applied to create a realisation of the vital value presented by enhanced digital connectivity for all. 

Stephanie Liston then offered closing remarks, noting the positivity that members of the panel, all representing different parts of the complex ecosystem of digital rollout, were aligned and willing to work together – paving the way for enactment of reform and the driving of progress. 


The panel was then opened to audience Q&A with questions focusing on varying topics such as digital champions, infrastructure sharing, funding, and industry collaboration. 

Is there an opportunity for the Digital Champion brief to be broadened to include helping local communities (particularly businesses) to understand what it is they need to buy and how to fully benefit from the infrastructure provided. 

  • Digital Champions are holistic in their approach, tasked with considering the wider picture, including how to achieve the benefit of the connectivity for which they advocate. 
  • There has been feedback showing that those local authorities who have Digital Champions are working well and this support is happening.  
  • There has been a clear indication that people do need guidance and operators are aware of this, with many (including CityFibre) calling on Ofcom to release such guidance (e.g., What constitutes full fibre). 
  • Whilst Digital Champions can be a catalyst to digital rollout, they can also be part of embedding digital adoption across the wider local authority and educating on why consumers should care about higher speeds; highlighting the societal and individual benefit that that connectivity brings. 

Is industry doing enough to have local authority champions within their own structures? 

  • The report has identified how important local authorities are to connectivity, alongside how industry needs to provide support for this e.g., who to speak to and where to go.  
  • The focus can now be placed on either side, allowing for a more balanced view. There is clear value in having an industry champion counterpart. 

Are there examples of successful industry collaboration and if not, what can be done to make this happen?

  • yes; an area in the south of England has had collaboration between fixed line operators sharing plans with each other.  
  • If there is a will to work together, there can be results achieved together.  
  • The National Connectivity Alliance is trying hard to foster communication in this area and came from the access to land workshops convened by what was then DCMS (Department for Culture, Media, and Sport) and is now being run by industry itself. 

What is the real scope for collaboration and infrastructure sharing given the current level of overbuild? 

  • DSIT recognises that they are aware of the issues presented by overbuild, which include removal and damage of infrastructure. 
  • Change in this area will inevitably take time, as well as a commitment from the operators involved to conduct conversations with honesty and an open and less accusatory tone. 
  • The Local Government Association (LGA) is trying to understand what needs to be done to have this conversation and considers that often delay is not an issue of will, but of way. The challenge is recognised and there is a solution, but that solution will require recognition of the complexity of the issue. 
  • Overbuild is already embedded in the connectivity structure.  
  • The positive position the UK finds itself in with connectivity is largely in place due the competitive business environment that it has.  
  • There is agreement that collaboration and infrastructure sharing is positive 
  • Local authorities should also share their own assets (such as roads, roof tops), and work towards asset sharing to providers as well as sharing between providers. 

How can industry work with local authorities who are short on resource, such as those who want to be part of the process but cannot or are prohibited from doing so due to financial constraints?

  •  Ideally there would be central government funding for Digital Champions across all local authorities, with a particular call that every local authority does need funding for this. 
  • For local authorities to widely adopt Digital Champions they must first see the value in having them (including the wider connectivity, societal and income value).  
  • This is partially incumbent on the local authorities to be involved in and advocate for this rather than entirely central government owned. 
  • DSIT highlighted that government very clearly understands the value of digital champions (and would have them embedded everywhere in an ideal world) – however, until decisions are made in central government to fund digital champions across the UK, we must be pragmatic in our approach. It is possible to focus the structure to accommodate these changes, however it takes a lot of patience and work, and Government acknowledges that this balancing is not at all easy. 

The report launch concluded with thanks and closing comments from the DCF, and report launch chair, Stephanie Liston. 

The Digital Connectivity Forum would like to take the time to thank all those involved in the report, including those who were interviewed, the panellists, FarrPoint and those who attended the launch event. An insightful report has been produced which presents value to a wide range of stakeholders and will hopefully lead the way to a more cohesive and connected connectivity future. 

UK’s largest connectivity providers commit to working together to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

The Digital Connectivity Forum is delighted to announce the launch of a pledge for collaborative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the supply chain. The pledge, which is signed by many big mobile and broadband ISPs marks a positive step in an important journey, as the industry strives towards net zero.

The commitment follows a roundtable meeting in May, convened by Ofcom and Accenture, where twelve telecoms and network infrastructure companies were invited to discuss and identify priority areas where they could work together to reduce GHG emissions in the supply chain.

The participants have committed to work via the Digital Connectivity Forum’s Climate & Sustainability Work Group, to building industry consensus on these areas to drive action, ahead of COP28, while ensuring compliance with Competition Law.

The DCF Climate & Sustainability Work Group (CSWG) provides a platform for the facilitation of UK Telecoms collaboration, enabling the acceleration of individual and industry path(s) towards net zero through collaboration, evidence sourcing and providing expert recommendations to Government, regulators and the industry.

The group will meet a further four times before the end of COP28 and will collaborate with other telecoms groupings and bodies that are committed to tackling climate change.

We commend the collaborative commitment of these companies in reducing the climate impact of the telecoms sector. By understanding and addressing the complexities of the industry, we can pave the way for industry-wide transformation. The enthusiasm and support for the DCF’s climate working group are inspiring, and we look forward to their proposals ahead of COP28.

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum

The Digital Connectivity Forum welcomes the signatories’ commitment to work together to reduce GHG emissions and support the sector and nation’s net zero ambitions. Individual companies within the telecoms sector have long-established commitments at a company level, however the UK telecoms industry is a complex and interlinked system. It is therefore essential that the sector collaborates and works together to address these challenges and achieves industry-wide transformation. I am delighted by the enthusiasm and support for the DCF’s working group on climate issues, and look forward to the work that it will undertake.

Will Ennett, Chair of the Digital Connectivity Forum Climate & Sustainability Work Group & Head of Sustainability, TalkTalk

We welcome the commitment of these companies to work together to reduce the climate impact of the sector. Better understanding the supply chain is as critical for sustainability as it is for security, so this is the right focus. We look forward to seeing further specific proposals ahead of COP 28

Ed Leighton, Director of Strategy & Policy at Ofcom

Companies have a leading role in scaling the ambition of a more sustainable future into a reality. The commitment we saw from all participants at May’s roundtable to work together and identify priority areas for collaboration will accelerate the innovative solutions and sustainability services needed for real action. We will continue to support the members of the Digital Connectivity Forum with insights on embedding sustainability as a core objective in the communications industry.

Toby Siddall, Sustainability Lead, Accenture UK & Ireland

You can learn more about the statement of commitment and those companies who are signed up to it here. If you would like to learn more about the Digital Connectivity Forum, including our work in the Climate & Sustainability Work Group, contact us today!

Introducing the Climate & Sustainability Working Group

Leading the way in Telecoms Net Zero

In January 2023, the DCF convened the first of a regular series of working group meetings. The DCF Climate & Sustainability Working Group is comprised of focused and driven representatives from across the telecoms and connectivity sector.

The aim of the working group is to facilitate UK Telecoms collaboration, enabling the acceleration of individual and industry path(s) towards net zero.

As with all industries, the UK telecoms sector is a complex organism, in which each individual player is part of a larger machine, particularly when it comes to carbon emissions and sustainability. An example of this is how the majority of UK telecom providers carbon footprint(s) typically result from their supply chain.

Recognising this complexity, the working groups first priority is to develop a net zero priority action list covering the UK telecoms sector, focusing on three main themes; e-waste, supply chain and operational efficiency.

The DCF Climate & Sustainability Working Group (CSWG) provides a platform for expert voices to come together in a way that is representative of the digital connectivity value chain to make meaningful progress on the path towards net zero.

The CSWG will collaborate, source evidence and provide expert recommendations to Government, regulators and the industry via the DCF executive. Through this it aims to support the development of policies, particularly those pertaining to climate and sustainability, which recognise and deliver on digital connectivity’s ability to empower positive societal change and economic growth as we journey towards net zero.

The group is chaired by Will Ennett, Head of Sustainability at TalkTalk, who had this to say regarding the working group and its ambitions.

We’ve identified an opportunity for a body that is specific to telecoms, and specific to the UK and Irish markets, to come together and actively collaborate on reducing the environmental impact of our sector.

It’s a real pleasure to bring together so many great experts on the topic of sustainability, and we look forward to starting by working on measures which can reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Will Ennett, Head of Sustainability, TalkTalk and DCF Climate & Sustainability Working Group Chair

If you would be interested in joining the DCF executive or getting involved with the Climate & Sustainability Working Group please get in touch with us.

Keeping Pace with a Digital Age

The Path to Digital Inclusion

In an increasingly online world, which provides a wealth of economic and social benefits, there is a growing light on the reality and practicality of digital exclusion; those who feel unable to keep pace with the rapid levels of technological reliance that is shaping society and the way we live.

Research conducted by the DCF on the subject of digital exclusion in 2020 suggested that attitudes towards the increasing role of digital connectivity in society were mixed, and whilst many acknowledged that the increasing debate of technological reliance is a complex one, there was a general trend that those who felt digitally excluded were more likely to mention the negative aspects of the internet.

Digital exclusion can take many forms, having broad and far-reaching effects. As people increasingly live and manage their lives online, connectivity and the ability to access, use and understand services has never been more important.

Those who are digitally excluded may experience financial implications such as paying more for goods and services, inability to access financial support and financial exclusion. Educational resources can be harder to access, as well as job applications and social services. There is also the social element of increased loneliness and isolation, either from being unable to access the way in which many now choose to interact or from feeling overwhelmed by the rapid changes’ technology has had on modern life, preventing individuals from experiencing the many benefits they bring.

According to the Lloyds Essential Digital Skills Survey (EDS), 10 million people lacked the basic digital skills required for modern day life in 2021. Digital Skills are defined as the ability to use digital devices such as computers, smartphones and the internet.

Digital skills are a vital barrier on the path to digital inclusion and Government programmes such as Skills for Life, Essential – Digital Skills are working to address this. AgeUK also has an active Digital Champion programme, running from 2022-2026, which aims to recruit Digital Champion Volunteers who will help support older people in learning digital skills, or building the digital confidence required to fully interact with modern society.

Devices and services must also be designed in a way that is accessible and inclusive to all, as well as being advertised in such a way that those who may benefit are aware of them.

Other barriers include the cost of access, whether that is for the device or service. Internet Service Providers are doing great work in offering low cost, social tariff options for those who need them. However, Ofcom recently published research that suggested a lower than expected take up of these offers, with just 5.1% of those who are eligible signed up. This could be a signal that creative approaches are required, beyond more traditional advertising campaigns, to ensure offers are reaching those who need the support of social tariffs.

Industry is also acting beyond social tariff availability. Sky Up is a programme launched by Sky in 2022, which aims to upskill those who are digitally isolated through connectivity, training and technology. It will provide Digital Hubs for economically deprived areas and tech grants for young people including devices and connectivity to support learning. The programme aims to target two demographics who are at key risk of digital exclusion; under 25’s in low-income areas and over 65’s and will be underpinned by a 10million fund.

BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme has helped 14.7 million people to develop their digital skills and aims to help 25 million people by 2026. BT also partnered with Home Start in 2022 with the aim of providing devices and social tariffs to help ensure that those at risk of digital exclusion have access to the connection they need.

TalkTalk have conducted work with the DWP to offer their 6 month no contract Fibre35 Broadband for job seekers. Ensuring they have the connectivity they need to access job opportunities, with an option to continue their contract or cancel with no associated fees at the end of their 6 months.

Some local authorities are also working with the private sector to provide devices to those unable to access them. Charities such as AgeUK may offer device loans and community organisations, in conjunction with The Good Things Foundation, have established the UK’s first National Device Bank to provide refurbished devices and data access.

Finally, there is the consideration of availability when looking at the digital divide. This includes access to fast reliable broadband universally across the UK. Notably rural areas have often struggled when it comes to faster connectivity, something which is being addressed by providers and as part of the Government’s Project Gigabit, which feeds into the Government commitment of 85% of UK homes having access to gigabit connectivity by 2025.

Indeed, the issue of digital exclusion is continuing to rise up Government and Parliament’s agenda, with the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee currently undertaking an inquiry into digital exclusion and the cost of living.

True digital inclusion requires a collaborative approach across Government, civil society and industry to tackle the various components which inhibit true inclusivity. This includes hardware providers, skills solutions and connectivity providers working together to create long term successful solutions. Effective change will require focused strategy and investment into the educational, structural and financial barriers associated with digital exclusion. This collected effort across sectors can help to ensure that as digital society increases and improves, digital inclusion moves with it.

Wireless Infrastructure Strategy Published

by Katie Lester

On 11th April 2023 the Government announced new investment into telecoms and digital wireless infrastructure as part of their new Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. As part of the UK Science and Technology Framework published earlier this year, which set out the Government’s approach towards making the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030, Future Telecoms was selected as one of the five critical technologies. The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy release builds on that priority.

The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy is a crucial element of the Prime Minister’s five priorities for Government to deliver a prosperous and secure future for the UK and includes almost £150 million of new investment into the future of digital connectivity.

It is increasingly clear that the importance and value of Digital infrastructure is vital in unlocking the full potential of an economy. The measures and investment unveiled by the Government as part of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy has the potential to continue to drive deployment and adoption of fixed and wireless networks, invest in the next generation of connectivity and deliver on their promise of increased opportunities.

As part of the strategy £40 million of investment will be made available for regions and local authorities to create ‘5G Innovation Regions’ to promote innovation and adoption of 5G enabled services for businesses and the public sector. In addition to this an £8 million fund will be aimed at providing satellite connectivity to the few remaining premises unable to access improved broadband due to their remoteness following the Alpha Trial Programme of 2022.

The Policy Framework outlined in the Strategy affirms the Government’s commitment to supporting the extension of 4G coverage to 95% of the UK population as well as making a new commitment to deliver standalone 5G coverage to all populated areas of the UK by 2030. Plans to improve coverage reporting will help in identifying areas which are in need of support or reform to meet this ambitious but necessary target.

The new 6G Strategy outlines the plan to place the UK at the forefront of the future of telecoms by shaping the next generation of wireless technology. With the 5G rollout now moving at pace in the UK and Globally, a focus has been placed on the ability for the UK to be forthright in steering the agenda for future wireless technologies such as 6G.

Areas of focus within the 6G strategy to realise these ambitions include creating a clear roadmap and UK vision, encouraging research & development through collaboration, including fostering international alliances and support for patents in qualifying technology areas.

The announcement of a robust and strategic framework to support private investment into 5G is particularly welcome and follows on from the DCF’s report with Frontier Economics of September 2022 which looked into the investment gap for full 5G rollout.