We were delighted to catch up with Kalam Meah, ISP Director at TP-Link, at this year’s Connected Britain to discuss the impact of new technologies and why tackling the digital divide is more important than ever
At Connected Britain 2021, effectively harnessing emerging technologies was at the heart of many a discussion. For Kalam Meah, ISP Director at TP-Link, two of these technologies – WiFI 6 and 5G ¬– are set to have a hugely transformative effect for the UK, both in the home and beyond.
“WiFi 6 is all about the speed,” explained Meah. “It will give everyone that base level of performance […] In the home it will mean more connected devices and more throughput of data from other clients on your network as well. This is where it all comes together.”
But while WiFi 6 will surely be essential to creating a smart home, replete with connected appliances, it is 5G that will have the largest impact in the UK over the coming years, making a huge difference to everything from glamping sites to telemedicine.
“Where 5G is available, it will be transformational,” said Meah.
You can view our full interview with Kalam Meah from the link above.
But of course, underlying all of these discussions there is an elephant in the room: the digital divide. Even as connectivity continues to advance and is rolled out more broadly around the UK, there remains a significant portion of the population who simply do not have access to the internet, whether through lacking infrastructure or the key digital skills.
“There’s a sense of exclusion. Asking ‘how do I become part of this?’” explained Meah. “But it’s not just an aspirational thing anymore. For basic things like government services ¬– universal credit, for example – you need to have access to the internet.”
The coronavirus has driven digitalisation over the past two years, accelerating a pre-existing trend, but this has also exacerbated the risk of people being digitally excluded – a problem the industry needs to address sooner rather than later.
For Meah, the solution lies in fist recognising connectivity as a necessity for modern life, not a mere luxury.
“If you don’t have that basic access, how are you going to manage? How are you going to manage yourself as a citizen in a modern society? So, it becomes a question of is this access a human right? Is it a civil right? Is it a utility? We’re exploring all of this right now when we talk about the digital divide.”