We only have a month to save the UK

When I worked in the chemical industry sulphur and chlorine were the building blocks of the chemical industry and that in turn helped to drive manufacturing from circuit boards and plastic toys to pharmaceuticals and washing powder.

In the information economy the ubiquity and bandwidth of business and consumer internet connections plays a similar role to sulphur and chlorine in manufacturing economies.

Think about the way that Wi-fi, 3G networks and mobile email has changed the productivity of knowledge workers by breaking down the boundary between work and downtime. Previously unproductive time on a plane or in an airport lounge is made productive.

If I think about myself, I’ve uploaded pictures from half-way around the world, done video calls with a friend in Hong Kong from my living room and blogged from airport lounges on three continents.

Connectivity changes and allows the creation of products, services and ways of working that we can’t conceive. Its a source of competitive advantage like continuous quality process improvement and just-in-time stock management was for manufacturers.

Unfortunately the UK is falling far behind countries like Japan and Korea, (you can read what progress other countries are making here) we won’t be able to reap the benefits and are likely to see whole industries fade into history joining British shipbuilding, motorcycles and engineering.

But there is something that we can do about it, there is a petition to the Prime Minister to Give BT government insentive (sic) to provide fibre to every UK home. This petition runs out of time on February 26. So we have less than a month to get it signed by enough people to make Gordon Brown pay attention.

Now I know that it isn’t as sexy as getting Jedi recognised as a religion on the next census or getting an extra days bank holiday in November to balance the year out a bit better, but it is very important. So here’s what you can do:

  • Sign the petition (it takes 30 seconds)
  • Share the petition weblink with other people through your social bookmarks
  • Twitter that you have signed it and provide a link to it
  • Blog about it and tell people why you feel its important
  • Talk about it over the kettle, by the water cooler and vending machine at work

Here’s the URI for the petition http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/fibretothehome/ and here’s a short version http://tinyurl.com/24neog