Publication Digital Growth and productivity 13 November, 2015

21st century connectivity: lessons for the UK

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On Thursday 12 November, Reform, in partnership with Sky, hosted a conference on how we ensure the UK has a world-leading digital economy for the next decade and beyond.

Ofcom has launched a once in a decade review of digital communications. Government is helping to deliver super-fast coverage (with an ambition for ultra-fast). Internet providers are rolling out the latest technologies to consumers. The Treasury’s productivity plan and Spending Review framework highlight digital technology as one of the key themes of public service reform in this Parliament.

But how ambitious should we be? Is the UK attractive to international investors and innovative companies with new technologies? Is our communications infrastructure up to global standards? What can we learn from other markets, from institutional investors and from those who have delivered world-leading connectivity elsewhere?

Sky overview of the conference

Keynote speech

The keynote speech at the event was given by John Fingleton, CEO of Fingleton associates on "Helping the market deliver next generation connectivity’’.

Panel 1: "What should UK networks be delivering?"

This panel discussed consumer and business expectations for connectivity in the UK, whether these are currently being delivered and what it wants to achieve.

The panel was chaired by Andrew Haldenby, Reform Director and the panel consisted of:

  • Matt Houlihan, Head of Government Affairs, UK and Ireland, Cisco
  • Dr Peter Cochrane OBE, CEO and Chairman, Cochrane Associates
  • Dr Adam Marshall, Executive Director of Policy and External Affairs, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Dana Tobak, Managing Director, Hyperoptic

Panel 2: "International Lessons"

This panel examined what lessons the UK could learn from case studies abroad, where companies have chosen to invest in next generation connectivity, and what this has delivered.

Jonathan Ford, Chief Leader Writer for the Financial Times chaired the panel, which consisted of:

  • Vanessa Oakley, General Counsel and Company Secretary, Chorus, New Zealand
  • Per-Olof Gustafsson, Deputy CEO, Stokab, Sweden
  • Benoit Felten, CEO and Co-Founder, Diffraction Analysis

Panel 3: "Mobilising investments in the UK"

The final panel discussed the risks and rewards of investing in next-generation infrastructure in the UK, and how the market and regulatory environment can incentivise investment.

The panel was chaired by Jonathan Ford, Chief Leader Writer for the Financial Times, and consisted of:

  • Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Adviser to the Mayor of London
  • Robert Wall, Senior Principal, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • Nick Delfas, Partner, Redburn
  • Andrew Griffith, Group CFO and MD Commercial Businesses, Sky