NESTA policy briefing: getting up to speed

James Meadway, Juan Mateos-Garcia

Research output: Other contribution


Decisive action is needed to attack the developing economic recession. While short-term intervention is needed to cope with its immediate impact, government should also use this opportunity to address the fundamental challenges we face in the next few years. This will enable the UK to emerge from the recession in a far stronger position. Next-generation, super-fast broadband will be a vital part of the emerging digital economy’s infrastructure, enabling dramatic improvements in connectivity and offering new possibilities for businesses, public services and local communities. NESTA estimates that the provision of universal super-fast broadband could directly create 600,000 new ICT jobs, with £18 billion added to GDP. The indirect effects could be far larger. California is an economy approximately the size of the UK – it has been estimated that ultra-fast broadband installation there could add $366 billion to economic output and create two million new jobs. But this fibre-optic infrastructure is expensive, with a baseline cost of universal provision running to £5 billion. NESTA is recommending a radical new deal with the telecommunications industry that will deliver superfast broadband rapidly and at minimal immediate cost to consumers or government. Ofcom, the communications regulator, should use its powers to provide radio spectrum access rights to communications companies in return for installing a fibre-optic broadband network: a ‘spectrum for speed’ swap. In addition, with intelligent government procurement, this will rapidly deliver the universal super-fast broadband network the UK will need to compete in a digital world. As part of this deal, broadband providers will be required to deliver free, basic broadband services to the most deprived households in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

© 2009 NESTA


  • Digital economy


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