The current shutdown of many businesses and events due to the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how important a fast internet connection is to the UK economy, a trade body has stated.
The Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) said the demands currently being placed on networks as more people work from home and turn to services like online streaming to keep themselves entertained at home shows why the delivery of ultrafast broadband to all parts of the UK must continue, despite the current COVID-19 lockdown conditions.
Ensuring the UK has the best possible digital infrastructure is essential in keeping people connected at times like these, and this means high-speed, gigabit cable connections that can cope with extremely high bandwidth demands.
The body said it will be important for the industry to come together to ensure networks are being managed as effectively as possible.
Chief executive of INCA Malcolm Corbett said: "With lockdown conditions unlikely to be lifted completely for some time to come, people across the country are getting used to working from home and are relying more than ever on the internet for keeping in touch and to provide entertainment as they observe social distancing guidelines.
"Network resilience has been good during the crisis, but sharing best practices on the way networks are operated and managed has taken on even greater importance."
Meanwhile, INCA's programme of events, workshops and roadshows for 2020, which were due to take place at a range of venues around the UK, have been converted into a series of webinars, which Mr Corbett said will better meet the current needs of professionals within the independent networks sector.
The events will, however, maintain four key themes that reflect the main priorities for the sector this year.
These are extending superfast broadband to rural areas, removing barriers to delivering gigabit digital infrastructure, predicting and maximising the impact of 5G, and helping independent network operators seize the opportunities presented by full fibre deployments.