Commsworld Chair calls for UK Government to invest in digital infrastructure

The new chair of Edinburgh-based telecoms provider Commsworld says the UK must invest more in digital infrastructure to meet the challenges of a post-coronavirus world.

Trower said: “We have already seen the impact that technology can have on our lives – without it, far more would have ground to a halt while we were in lockdown. But we have also discovered that a large segment of our society is digitally excluded.

“Now is the time to embrace new, emerging technology can help tackle these issues head on – artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, 5G and data analytics are poised to come into their own.”

The University of Strathclyde engineering graduate’s three decades of boardroom experience include serving as director of network operations with Thus and he was seconded to the Scottish Executive as an adviser on public procurement policy.

He has been a member of the Ofcom Advisory Committee for Scotland and a Commissioner of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland.

He said: “Politicians and policy makers face a huge challenge across two fronts. They must find a way to meet our net zero carbon emission targets – 2045 in Scotland and 2050 in the rest of the UK. They must also resolve an issue laid bare by the Covid-19 crisis and that’s a lack of equitable growth.”

He added: “But for these technologies to work to maximum effect we need the building blocks of digital infrastructure to be in place.” Trower says governments should be investing in these “building blocks” of digital infrastructure if Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to honour his pledge to deliver 100% full-fibre broadband by 2025.

Commsworld employs more than 100 staff across offices in Edinburgh, London, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Last year, it launched the UK’s largest privately funded optical core network, which connects internet exchanges serving more than 20 cities.

The Commsworld boss said: “This is a massive challenge logistically and financially, but it’s one that must be addressed going forward. Achieving this will allow truly equitable access to high-speed, resilient networks no matter where you live, ending the hardship of areas stifled by an absence of infrastructure.

“It will transform private but also the public sector, including education in schools and social housing. Our whole society will be structured in a way that is greener and more efficient, delivered by a more skilled workforce.

“Next generation providers of digital services such as Commsworld want to be a part of this and can deliver it, something which can only be of benefit to our society and transform us as a nation.”