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Have broadband, will thrive

Bermuda’s economy became tourism-based in the 1940s due to the introduction of the first commercial flights when people travelled here to see Bermuda’s beautiful sand and surf. However, tourism began to suffer due to the abundance of new destinations and price of travel.

A shift in our economy then occurred in 1994 from tourism to International Business (IB) when the Tax Treaty with the US was negotiated which resulted in the development of the insurance and reinsurance industries and established the Island as a major offshore financial centre.

The IB sector of our economy is now suffering due to restrictive policies and legislation and the ease of doing business in other jurisdictions. What will be our next economic shift and are we even prepared for it?

The western world is rapidly replacing commodity capitalism (raw materials and products) with intellectual capitalism (special knowledge and exchange of information). Attracting intellectual capital with higher/better broadband speeds is one way that Bermuda can prepare for the future of economic change. Intellectual capitalists can operate from anywhere. All they need is a computer and broadband. World governments are now officially competing for creative minds.

What is meant by broadband? Broadband is high speed internet which allows you to download and upload information from and to the internet quickly.

So why doesn’t Bermuda attract these intellectual capitalists? The answer is, the one simple thing that they need we don’t offer — broadband speeds above 10mbps in home and small office environments. Bermuda is well behind other nations is broadband speeds and getting further behind.

Bermuda has virtually no intellectual capital except that offered by our waning insurance and money-management sectors. As tourism numbers demonstrate, Bermuda’s natural resources (sun, sand, surf) are no longer sufficient to sustain Bermuda’s economy.

As we have stated in previous articles, Bermuda should free up the telecommunications market to maximise new opportunities in technology and minimise cost as a result of competition.

This would increase competition and make Bermuda far more relevant in and on the international stage. We should have an open mind and make Bermuda as current and efficiently connected as possible. Most places worldwide are in a 4G network with speeds in excess of 100 mbps and are quickly moving beyond that.

The Internet is a necessity in today’s world. If it is to remain competitive, Bermuda needs to upgrade its broadband infrastructure and services.

Why is broadband so important?

l Information access — the ability to obtain and transmit information in a timely manner enables companies and individuals to remain current and make informed decisions.

l Introduction of new technologies — Smartgrid technology allows a person to monitor their home electrical use and adjust it to save on energy costs.

l Economic Development — Businesses need to be able to compete on a global level with increased efficiency, productivity and reduced business costs.

l Telecommuting — this would enable people to work from home and businesses would still be able to operate seamlessly.

l Public Safety — the ability for law enforcement and public service organisations to communicate critical information across different jurisdictions and agencies regarding suspects or during times of disaster.

l Healthcare — enables healthcare facilities to communicate with each other not just on a local level but on an international one with specialists working as virtual teams to ensure rapid diagnosis and the best care possible for patients

l Education — textbooks can be complemented with online research and put all students on a level playing field.

Higher broadband speeds would expand economic opportunities, increase trade and productivity, reduce costs, create jobs and encourage foreign investment here in Bermuda.

All of this would help our GDP to grow. However, the economy will not solely benefit from an upgrade in broadband, Bermudians will as well. Many of the services mentioned above could become available and help with cost savings and better access to government and community services.

Connectivity is so vital in today’s world that Harvard University, the OECD and the World Bank have conducted studies on the importance of Broadband and its effect on economies. Countries such as Canada, Germany and Brazil have national plans on the implementation of broadband nationwide.

We have to implement policies and practices that are needed. We can’t wait for a convenient time for us to make a decision. If we do not take advantage of the opportunity now, we will find that other jurisdictions will and we will continue to see Bermuda lose business and revenue.

This continues to be a collective effort by all Bermudians and we need your support, comments and ideas. For further information or to express your comments e-mail Suzie Arruda at economy@challengerbanks.bm or visit us on FACEBOOK — Regeneration of Bermuda’s Economy.

Falling behind: Bermuda must have high speed Internet connections if it is to attract intellectual capital to the Island.

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Published August 13, 2012 at 8:55 am (Updated August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am)

Have broadband, will thrive

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