HS2 money would be "better spent" on broadband improvements

ANS Group founder Scott Fletcher thinks faster internet connections, not railway services, would benefit the economy more.

Network Rail railway track

The Government would be better off investing the 45 billion set aside for the HS2 high-speed railway link in bringing the UK's broadband infrastructure up to speed.

That's according to ANS Group founder and chairman Scott Fletcher, who claims the economic benefits of offering superfast broadband services to UK businesses far outweigh those associated with HS2.

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The controversial high-speed rail link is expected to cost in excess of 45 billion and cut journey times between London and other major cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The need for face-to-face business meetings, and hence the need for superfast trains, will become less important.

"I just cannot accept that spending that amount of money on cutting a journey time from London to Birmingham by 20 minutes will have anything like the financial benefits that are claimed for HS2," said Fletcher.

"Superfast Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband would be of immense benefit to British business in the short term and would accelerate the development of new technology in the long term," Fletcher added.

Fletcher then went on to claim that faster internet connections will be essential for doing business in the digital age.

"The way we conduct business is rapidly changing and will continue to change in the future. The only thing that we can predict for certain is that the fast interchange of data will be an essential feature of the digital age," he said.

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"The need for face-to-face business meetings, and hence the need for superfast trains, will become less important in a world that is more dependent on digital conferencing and mobile computing devices."

Speaking to IT Pro, Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Networks Co-Operative Association (INCA), backed Fletcher's view.

"Upgrading our digital infrastructure to create networks capable of delivering 100mbps and 1gbps symmetric services for the prices that Hyperoptic, CityFibre, Gigaclear, B4RN and other players are offering would enable more people to work more effectively from home, at least some of the time," he said.   

"This will help to reduce the burden on our transport infrastructure. It will also put in place the sort of transformational digital networks that will support innovative new digital applications and services for the benefit of the whole economy."

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