Aberdeen is in line for a £1.4billion windfall from the rollout of superfast broadband across the city, according to economists.
Their new report has set out the potential economic impact that could be unlocked by fibre network provider CityFibre in partnership with mobile phone giant Vodafone.
The study by economic consultancy Regeneris quantifies the likely impact to the city over a 15-year period.
According to researchers, Aberdeen’s homeowners and the wider property market can expect a welcome boost after a spell of falling house prices. Up to £67m could be added to the value of local homes, as access to reliable, high speed broadband becomes ever-more critical to buyers.
Smart City initiatives including home automation technologies, smart energy networks and intelligent transportation systems could add as much as £109m locally too; while digital enhancements in the delivery of healthcare services could be worth at least £12m. As a result of the city’s existing leadership in this field, the University of Aberdeen recently became one of just a handful of institutions selected to receive a portion of £54m to address healthcare challenges using data science.
The city’s business community stands to benefit enormously as well. Access to gigabit-speed full fibre connectivity could unlock £99m in business productivity and innovation, with companies able to develop and promote new, richer products and services online and benefit from greater exposure to the international marketplace.
Already recognised as one of the best UK cities in which to set up business, new start-ups hungry for ultrafast speeds and unlimited bandwidth could generate a further £50m in growth. The increased ability for companies to support flexible working could also add £45m. This will not only help to reduce barriers to work, but improve employees’ work-life balance which in turn improves motivation and retention.
Crucially the network roll-out itself is expected to drive £25m in direct economic growth, employing an average of 150 people in the construction and civil engineering sectors throughout the duration of the project.
Speaking of the report, Simon Hooton, director at Regeneris, said: “Our findings clearly indicate that full fibre will provide the core infrastructure required to kick start the next generation of digital technology and drive expansion of smart infrastructure in towns and cities where it is deployed. The result will be a modernised, more productive and innovative UK economy.”
CityFibre is now calling for an accelerated roll-out of full-fibre infrastructure across the country, supported by a clear political and regulatory plan that will maximise the investment potential of the multiple players now looking to deploy these networks. Aberdeen is already ahead of the game following its announcement as the first Scottish location to benefit from CityFibre and Vodafone’s strategic partnership, which aims to bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to five million UK homes and businesses by 2025.
Greg Mesch, chief executive at CityFibre, said: “With a new full fibre network being built beneath its streets, Aberdeen is a forerunner of digital transformation in the UK. This report demonstrates that the city is set to enjoy huge economic benefits as a result of this roll-out. This is about more than just broadband, it is about the digital infrastructure set to power our economy for decades to come.”