You may recall that in January 2018 we welcomed the UK government’s announcement that it would make high-speed internet connections a legal right from 2020.

We’re now equally pleased the government has taken the process a step further by publishing legislation setting out its plans for achieving this comprehensive provision.

The new document confirms that the previously-mooted publicly-funded scheme has been side-lined in favour of a universal service obligation (USO). This is to be funded by industry through a cost-sharing mechanism established by regulator OFCOM, which is charged with overseeing the fund and implementing the scheme.

OFCOM has estimated the USO could cost up to £1.1bn and the Internet Service Providers Association has warned its introduction will increase bills for homes and businesses.

The government believes only a regulatory USO offers the certainty and legal enforceability needed to ensure complete coverage. This is, in our view, a small price to pay for ensuring the country’s infrastructure is fit for purpose, in a world increasingly dependent on reliable and fast data connection speeds. This is particularly so at a time when businesses must prepare to operate in a world with less certainty and where customers and suppliers may increasingly be spread over greater distances.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport says the maximum cost of the USO will be £3,400 per premises, which will be enough to cover 99.8 per cent of the relevant sites. Where the bill is higher, occupants will be able to choose between paying the rest themselves and receiving a satellite connection.

The UK’s official definition of a high-speed broadband connection is one with a minimum download speed of 10 Mbit/s, which OFCOM has suggested should increase in the future. While the government claims 95 per cent of the UK already has access to superfast broadband – defined as at least 24 Mbit/s – OFCOM has reported that 1.1 million UK homes and business premises still lack high-speed connections.

Ten Mbit/s is, in our opinion, a very modest value. Full fibre-to-the-premises deployments are being rolled out by companies such as Gigaclear, offering domestic users up to 1GB/s (i.e. 100 times faster than so-called high-speed) connections. Experienced by some of our own team here at Opal Wave, these companies are making very high-speed connections increasingly affordable for businesses in rural areas as well.

Despite our reservations about the funding proposals, we’re glad to see progress on this matter for at least two reasons.

Firstly, high-speed connections are effectively more of a necessity than a luxury in the modern world, especially for businesses.

Secondly, we’re keen to see the maximum number of organisations deriving the significant benefits offered by our ground-breaking cloud-based version of the market-leading SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) system. This is powered by SAP HANA, the world’s most advanced in-memory database management application.

This cloud-based solution, the first of its kind in the world when we unveiled it last year, abolishes the need for expensive hardware and contains a suite of financial consolidation, budgeting and forecasting templates. It includes EU General Data Protection Regulation-compliant detailed headcount planning, generates all essential reports “out of the box”, and its ultra-rapid Go Live in a Day™ templates comply with the latest International Financial Reporting Standards.