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Discover Why Online Coupons Are A Must For All Shopping Lovers

Online coupons, online shoppingPhoto by Negative Spaces from Pexels

Both online and retail shopping are popular nowadays. Each way of purchasing goods has its own strengths and weaknesses, and today we'll discuss one aspect that'll make you fall in love with online shopping. We won't mention that it's fast and convenient -- you probably know it.

However, if you're reading this, you don't know how to benefit from it. Well, how often do you use online coupons for purchasing clothes, food, accessories, decorations, and all other items you buy?  If you think that online shopping is cheap enough and you don't need to get the advantage of additional discounts, you don't value your money.

Why not save £10-20 and spend them on something you need more? Coupons-verified.com is an irreplaceable service for all people who prefer to spend their money online. It's a reliable coupon website used by thousands of people from the USA and other countries.

Find popular deals and coupons here, apply them and get a discount. Contrary to the widespread opinion, online coupons are profitable both for customers and business owners. Brands and marketplaces offer such discounts, thereby increasing their sales.

Regular customers make more purchases, tell their friends and acquaintances about this offer, and help businesses attract new customers. Even the most reasonable and thrifty customers can't resist the temptation to buy something at a lower price. 

Why Should Everyone Try Shopping With Coupons-Verified.com?

If you have used discount shopping sites before, you know how they work. But it doesn't mean that we won't tell you more about the peculiarities and advantages of Coupons-verified.com.

First, it's necessary to mention the responsible attitude to customers. This coupon site has its own blog where managers post updates. Many users of this site visit Coupons-verified.com blog to stay aware of new coupons and read useful articles, such as "How to make safe shopping online" and so on.

This website can help you find the best coupons, and it's true. The current number of shops and marketplaces that collaborate with Copons-verified.com is 510. Moreover, the list of shops is constantly updated.

Visit this service now to see that coupons of your favorite brands are already available. If you can't find the necessary store, wait for some time or ask customer support about the opportunity to get new codes. Customer support works well here, so don't worry that your requests will be ignored.

Coupons-verified.com is a large database of codes -- almost 40,000 offers are available. Almost 1,000 coupons are added every day to let you shop online with discounts and spend your money usefully. We've mentioned that this service cooperates with lots of shops.

You may use the search tab to find the necessary store or choose one from the most popular ones. If you want to buy an item from a specific category, scroll the main page down and find the table.

How to Use Coupon Codes?

To start enjoying cheap online deals, you need to create a shopping list in one of several shops. Then, open Coupons-verified.com, find this store, and check the list of available coupons.

Copy the necessary one and paste it to the coupon code field in the shopping cart. Be attentive, and don't make a payment before you make sure the coupon was redeemed. Even though this service offers only reliable codes, it's better to check the price several times before making a payment to protect yourself from the negative consequences.

We guarantee that you'll join the ranks of satisfied coupon users and won't imagine your online shopping without coupons. 

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Advertorial: Office 2016 to $44 thanks to this coupon of CDKoffers

Do you want to assemble a new PC and are tired of searching every single shop online for components to find the lowest price? We understand how you feel, but know that at least the Windows license and the Office package will not require a search worthy of the best Indiana Jones: all thanks to this incredible offer of CDKoffers, exclusive to you Guru3D's readers! Of course the hardware alone is not enough, this will have to be accompanied by various software, some of which (such as the operating system) are indispensable for the use of our new PC.

Again, the cost of the licenses, although less representative of the total, has a certa in relevance. So how do we manage to contain expenditure? The CDKoffers portal sells keys to activate different software and always has great prices, but today there is a special offer thanks to an exclusive coupon for those who read our pages.

Our readers enjoy an additional discount of 25% usable on a selection of products offered by CDKoffers, thanks to the GURU25 discount code. All you have to do is login to CDKoffers.com (also via Facebook or Google accounts), add the desired products to the cart and enter the coupon in the appropriate space before payment. In this way, in addition to the license that you have just been highlighted, you can also access the following offers:

Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM CD-KEY GLOBAL Offer price: 15 USD |  Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM CD KEY GLOBAL Offer price: 15 USD | Office2016 Professional Plus CD-KEY GLOBALOffer price: 45 USD | Office2019 Professional Plus CD Key Global Offer price: 44 USD | Windows10 PRO OEM + Office2016 Professional Plus CD Keys Pack offer price: 58 USD | Windows10 PRO OEM + Office2019 Professional Plus CD Keys Pack offer price: 59 USD 


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Amazon, eBay and Argos among UK's favourite online retailers in lockdown

Amazon, eBay and Argos are among the most popular online retailer in the UK during national lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic. A study from savings site, VoucherCodes.co.uk, highlights that online shopping is giving Brits an escape from the monotony of lockdown, helping to improve their happiness when packages arrive.  UK shoppers are spending an average GBP49 per week on online orders, excluding supermarket shops, with nearly half admitting they order online just for something to look forward to.

While non-essential stores aren't set to re-open on the 12th April Brits are currently getting their shopping fix online. Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at VoucherCodes.co.uk, said: "With a return to a more normal life still months ahead of us, it's interesting to see from the research that many are turning to online shopping to give them the happiness hits that are lacking in their daily lives - and in some cases are even feeling an improvement in mental health.  "Whilst it's clear online shopping can help us feel happier and give us a much-needed boost, it's important not to spend beyond your means. 

"Finding the best deal will help keep your bank balance happy, so if you are shopping online, downloading a free browser extension such as DealFinder from VoucherCodes will help make sure you get the best price. "It automatically finds and applies the best discount codes and is a quick and easy way to make sure you get the most out of your money."  Top ten most popular online retailers during the pandemic

Web giant Amazon has been named the most popular lockdown retailer with nearly three quarters (74%) of shoppers admitting they shop here most often.

Other retailers making up the top five are eBay (39%), Argos (24%), ASOS (12%) and Marks and Spencer (11%).

  1. Amazon - 74%
  2. eBay -39%
  3. Argos - 24%
  4. ASOS - 12%
  5. Marks & Spencer - 11%
  6. Boots - 11%
  7. Next - 11%
  8. Etsy - 10%
  9. Boohoo - 9%
  10. Currys/PC World - 9%

The survey was conducted between February 8 and February 10 2021 and comprised 2,036 UK adults.

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Free £10 voucher to spend at You Garden

We've teamed up with gardening specialists You Garden to give you GBP10 to spend on hundreds of items on their site to celebrate the arrival of spring! Choose from a wide range of bulbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, fruit, vegetables and more to brighten up your garden. Best of all, there's no minimum spend - so you can get adventurous with their amazing selection of gardening ideas up to GBP10 absolutely free.

HOW TO CLAIM Simply fill out the form below to reveal the promotional URL and code to redeem your GBP10 voucher to spend at yougarden.co.uk. This offer excludes Gardening Essentials (including compost), Gifts for Gardeners & Outdoor Living.

Offer closes Monday, March 8, 2021 at midnight.

See terms and conditions below for full details.

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Unite Students today announces further rent discount for students

Unite Students (@Unite_Student) announces further rent discount up to 28 March

  • All eligible* students will receive an additional three-week 50% rent discount, taking the total rent discount to 10 weeks during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2021
  • The rent discount reflects the Government stay at home rule ending on 29 March 2021
  • The total combined rent discount package in 2021 represents an average value per student of c.GBP1,300
  • Unite Students' rent support since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 now totals in excess of GBP100million

Unite Students, the UK's largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), is today announcing a further three-week rent discount due to the Government's ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. This further rent discount, when added to the two previous rent discounts already announced in 2021, will provide eligible* students with a 50% rent discount totalling 10 weeks, up to 28 March 2021. In total, the combined rental discount package in 2021 represents an average value per student of c.GBP1,300.

This decision has been taken following the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, set out on 22 February, which includes an end to the stay at home rule on 29 March. Subject to no further major changes in Government guidelines, it is anticipated this will be Unite Students' last rent discount relating to Covid-19. Students are eligible for the additional three-week discount if they pay their rent directly to Unite Students.

To be eligible, students will need to be up to date with their rent payments as of 30 April 2021 and not be in residence in a Unite Students' property between 8 March and 28 March 2021. In England, the Government's stay at home rule ends as of 29 March 2021, with similar restrictions having already been lifted in Wales. All eligible students will be emailed by Unite Students in the week commencing 8 March.

There's no need for students to apply or contact Unite Students. Unite Students has announced two previous rent discounts in line with Government guidance at that time:

  • A four-week 50% rent discount from 18 January to 14 February was announced on 11 January 2021 with the option to also apply for a four-week complimentary summer extension, if the tenancy contract end date was prior to 1 August 2021.
  • A three-week 50% rent discount extension from 15 February to 7 March, which was announced on 3 February 2021.

Unite Students was the first purpose-built student accommodation provider to forgo summer term rents for students returning home during the first national lockdown. In total, Unite Students has provided rental discounts to students totalling in excess of GBP100million throughout the pandemic, alongside multiple other support measures.

Only those students who have previously applied for a rent discount will be considered for this additional three-week rent discount. Students will receive a cash refund in relation to this final three-week discount period when they check out of their property at the end of this academic year. This announcement provides further proof, as highlighted by the recent National Student Accommodation Survey 2021, that PBSA is the most affordable type of student accommodation, demonstrating the additional benefits of this type of accommodation.

Since March 2020, Unite Students has provided more financial support than any other student accommodation provider in the UK.

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A recent survey carried out by Unite Students found 86% of students are keen to get onto university campus once it is safe to do so. Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, said: "Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we have strived to play our part and do the right thing for our students in a fair and proportionate way.

We also know from our own survey of students that the majority want to return and enjoy university life. This final rent discount means we will have provided a total of 10-weeks of financial support while students were asked to stay at home by the Government. This comes on top of the waiver of rent for the third term of the 2019/20 academic year during the first national lockdown, when we were the first provider of purpose-built student accommodation to offer this.

"All our properties continue to remain open, as they have throughout the pandemic. Like any private landlord, we do not normally provide refunds for time students choose to spend away from a property during a tenancy. However, we acknowledge students have faced challenges this year and that's why we have supported them consistently through the pandemic.

We remain committed to ensuring that students can continue to experience the real life-long benefits of university life."

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Deals: grab Apple's M1 Mac mini for $665, plus save up to $110 on 16GB models

Mac mini (M1, 8GB, 256GB) £699.00 £665.00 £663.00 £669.99 £699.00 £669.99 £699.99 £699.00 £36.00 Mac mini (M1, 8GB, 512GB) £899.00 £839.00 sold out £849.00 £849.00 £849.00 £899.99 £894.00 £60.00 Mac mini (M1, 8GB, 1TB) £1,099.00 place order place order n/a £1,099.00 n/a n/a sold out £56.56 Mac mini (M1, 8GB, 2TB) £1,499.00 place order place order n/a place order n/a n/a sold out £77.12 Mac mini (M1, 16GB, 256GB) £899.00 £835.00 place order n/a place order £899.00 n/a £899.00 £64.00 Mac mini (M1, 16GB, 512GB) £1,099.00 £1,085.00 place order n/a £1,099.00 £1,099.00 n/a £1,099.00 £56.56 Mac mini (M1, 16GB, 1TB) £1,299.00 £1,219.00 place order n/a £1,299.00 n/a n/a £1,299.00 £80.00 Mac mini (M1, 16GB, 2TB) £1,699.00 £1,589.00 place order n/a £1,699.00 n/a n/a sold out £110.00

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3 Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy at a Discount as Nasdaq Nears Correction

Stocks fell again Thursday amid a string of selling as U.S. Treasury yields climb. The downturn was driven by technology stocks and pushed the Nasdaq right near correction territory, down roughly 10% from its mid-February records.

The selling continued as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell once again committed to the central bank's easy-money policies. Wall Street has beefed up its bond selling in anticipation of more government spending and the potential of a vaccine-boosted economic recovery later this year. The yield on the 10-year U.S.

Treasury has soared from 1% in late January to over 1.5% on Thursday--its highest level in over a year. The recently-noisy inflation concerns call into question elevated tech valuations and higher yields make the S&P 500's dividend less appealing. That said, yields still remain ultra-low by historical standards and the bullish outlook for 2021 remains largely in place as the S&P 500's earnings outlook improves (also read: An All-Around Improving Earnings Picture).

Timing the market precisely is next to impossible.

Think about all the money left on the table by not at least dollar-cost averaging into strong stocks as the market tumbled last March. Even though corrections are healthy aspects of the market, they are not super common, which is why many savvy Wall Street firms take advantage of them. Therefore, investors with long-term horizons might want to consider buying strong stocks at a discount, even if the market faces more selling...

Nike NKE Nike has thrived in a fluid industry where it's difficult to stay on top. The company's ability to create trends, constantly adapt, and attach the Swoosh to the biggest sports, athletes, and cultural icons in the world will help it grow and compete against global rival Adidas, as well as Lululemon LULU and other newer players.

NKE remains one of the world's most valuable brands alongside the likes of McDonald's MCD, Disney DIS, and many of the tech giants. Story continues The company has built a robust e-commerce business that includes various shopping apps and a massive reach across social media platforms such as Instagram where consumers can now shop directly.

Nike's transition to a higher-margin, direct-to-consumer model sets it up to thrive in the Amazon era. NKE's DTC push includes updating its stores for the 2020s and beyond, while focusing on key hubs for fashion from New York City to Paris. NKE is also digitalizing its supply chain to be more predictive.

Nike's sales jumped 9% in Q2 FY21 (period ended on Nov.

30) to bounce back after two down, coronavirus-hit quarters, with digital sales up 80%. Looking ahead, Zacks estimates call for NKE's FY21 revenue to surge over 15% to £43.12 billion and jump another 11% higher in FY22. This would mark a big comeback from FY20's 4% decline and both estimates represent the strongest top-line growth since fiscal 2012.

NKE's adjusted earnings are projected to skyrocket 85% this year and another 29% next year.

The sports apparel power's stock has climbed nearly 50% in the last year to outpace its industry. NKE shares are up 100% to nearly triple its Econ Sector's average and double the S&P 500 in the past three years. The stock has cooled down recently, underperforming the market in the past three months.

At roughly £133 a share, NKE trades 10% below its early January records. And with an RSI of 36, Nike is approaching what is often considered oversold territory. Wall Street has been willing to pay a premium for NKE for years compared to its industry.

Luckily, it trades at a 20% discount to its own year-long highs in terms of forward sales and below its own median over this stretch. NKE lands a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), alongside a "B" grade for Growth in our Style Scores system and its dividend yields 0.80% right now. The next catalyst for Nike stock could be its Q3 FY21 financial results that are due out on March 18.

But trying to time the stock isn't imperative for investors thinking they are in it for the long run. And 15 of the 21 broker recommendation Zacks has for Nike come in at "Strong Buys," with none below a "Hold." PepsiCo, Inc.

PEP Like Nike, PepsiCo hasn't needed much of an introduction for decades. The company is more diverse than its beverage rival, Coca-Cola KO, with a portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Quaker, and more.

More recently, PEP landed a partnership with Beyond Meat BYND in January that creates "a joint venture to develop, produce and market innovative snack and beverage products made from plant-based protein." PepsiCo's 2020 revenue popped 5%, with 9% expansion in the fourth quarter. The company is projected to follow up FY20 with another 7% sales growth in FY21 that would see it pull in £75.23 billion, with FY22 then set to jump nearly 5%.

PEP's adjusted EPS figures are projected to climb by 9% and 8%, respectively.

PEP stock has topped the consumer staples industry over the past five years, up 30% vs. just 3% and KO's 13%. Despite its stable and solid growth outlook, its shares have fallen over 10% since the start of the year, to lag its peers. PepsiCo was trading at roughly £129 a share on Thursday, which put it about 13% off its early January records.

This pullback sent it into the oversold range at the end of February. Wall Street noticed and it popped on Thursday, as the rest of the market fell. PEP's valuation is more enticing as well, trading at a 12% discount to its own year-long median in terms of forward earnings.

Plus, the company's 3.2% dividend yield doubles the S&P 500, crushes the 30-year U.S. Treasury's 2.3%, and roughly matches Coca-Cola despite its stock price outperformance. And PEP executives are set to raise its annualized dividend by 5%, starting with the June 2021 dividend payment.

The company's earnings revisions activity has it sitting at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) currently. The consumer staples giant also consistently beats our bottom-line estimates and earns "B" grades for Value and Growth. PepsiCo is trying to adapt to changing consumer habits and its near-term outlook shows that there is solid demand for its diverse portfolio that ranges from Tropicana to Doritos.

Microsoft MSFT Microsoft is the second-largest company in the world by market cap at £1.7 trillion, behind only Apple AAPL. The historic tech firm is also not currently facing government scrutiny like Facebook FB, Amazon AMZN, Alphabet GOOGL, and many others are--it had its day in antitrust court 20 years ago.

More importantly, the company has never been more diversified and it remains invaluable to businesses and consumers around the world. MSFT's cloud computing space has boomed and it's likely to drive growth for years. In fact, cloud has been woven into nearly all of its business segments, from its Office unit to its remote work products and its Xbox-heavy gaming division. "What we have witnessed over the past year is the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation...

Microsoft is powering this shift with the world's largest and most comprehensive cloud platform," CEO Satya Nadella said in prepared remarks in January. Last quarter, MSFT's sales jumped 17% to nearly double our Zacks estimate and all three of its core units climbed by over 13%. The company's commercial cloud revenue surged 34% to £16.7 billion to account for 39% of total sales.

Looking ahead, Microsoft's fiscal 2021 revenue is projected to jump 14.3% to reach £164 billion, with its FY22 sales set to climb another 10.5%. Investors should note that these estimates come on top of three straight years of between 13% to 15% revenue expansion, which is highly impressive for a company of its size and age.

Analysts raised their bottom-line outlooks after its strong Q2 FY21 report to help it capture a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) right now. The company consistently beats our EPS estimates, including a 15% average beat in the trailing four quarters.

And its adjusted earnings are projected to climb 27% this year and another 10% in FY22. The recent market selloff that began in mid-February hasn't hit MSFT as hard as some other big tech names. Nonetheless, it has fallen about 8% from its Feb.

12 records to hover at around £226 a share. The stock has now fallen behind the Tech Sector, up 36% in the past 12 months vs.

47%. The pullback has also pushed it well below neutral RSI levels at 39, which puts it near its lowest levels since the coronavirus selloff last year.

Microsoft's 1% dividend yield comes in above Apple's 0.70% and its balance sheet is strong. The company finished last quarter with £132 billion in cash and equivalents. This will help MSFT keep making strategic acquisitions, raising its dividend, and repurchasing stock.

And 20 of the 22 brokerage recommendations Zacks has for Microsoft stock come in at "Strong Buys" with the other two at "Buys." The Hottest Tech Mega-Trend of All Last year, it generated £24 billion in global revenues.

By 2020, it's predicted to blast through the roof to £77.6 billion. Famed investor Mark Cuban says it will produce "the world's first trillionaires," but that should still leave plenty of money for regular investors who make the right trades early. See Zacks' 3 Best Stocks to Play This Trend >>


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) : Free Stock Analysis Report

NIKE, Inc. (NKE) : Free Stock Analysis Report The Walt Disney Company (DIS) : Free Stock Analysis Report CocaCola Company The (KO) : Free Stock Analysis Report

PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP) : Free Stock Analysis Report

To read this article on Zacks.com click here.

Zacks Investment Research

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Amazon, eBay and Argos among UK's favourite online retailers in lockdown

Amazon, eBay and Argos are among the most popular online retailer in the UK during national lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic. A study from savings site, VoucherCodes.co.uk, highlights that online shopping is giving Brits an escape from the monotony of lockdown, helping to improve their happiness when packages arrive.  UK shoppers are spending an average GBP49 per week on online orders, excluding supermarket shops, with nearly half admitting they order online just for something to look forward to.

While non-essential stores aren't set to re-open on the 12th April Brits are currently getting their shopping fix online. Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at VoucherCodes.co.uk, said: "With a return to a more normal life still months ahead of us, it's interesting to see from the research that many are turning to online shopping to give them the happiness hits that are lacking in their daily lives - and in some cases are even feeling an improvement in mental health.  "Whilst it's clear online shopping can help us feel happier and give us a much-needed boost, it's important not to spend beyond your means. 

"Finding the best deal will help keep your bank balance happy, so if you are shopping online, downloading a free browser extension such as DealFinder from VoucherCodes will help make sure you get the best price. "It automatically finds and applies the best discount codes and is a quick and easy way to make sure you get the most out of your money."  Top ten most popular online retailers during the pandemic

Web giant Amazon has been named the most popular lockdown retailer with nearly three quarters (74%) of shoppers admitting they shop here most often.

Other retailers making up the top five are eBay (39%), Argos (24%), ASOS (12%) and Marks and Spencer (11%).

  1. Amazon - 74%
  2. eBay -39%
  3. Argos - 24%
  4. ASOS - 12%
  5. Marks & Spencer - 11%
  6. Boots - 11%
  7. Next - 11%
  8. Etsy - 10%
  9. Boohoo - 9%
  10. Currys/PC World - 9%

The survey was conducted between February 8 and February 10 2021 and comprised 2,036 UK adults.

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This is how to claim and use your £1 World Book Day voucher

World Book Day 2021 has arrived, allowing book lovers around the UK the chance to celebrate their favourite stories, characters and authors.

(C) This is how to claim and use your GBP1 World Book Day voucher (Photo: Shutterstock)

The annual event was created by UNESCO in 1995, and is largely aimed at enhancing children's love of reading from a young age. Families in the UK will be familiar with World Book Day as a result of related dress up days at primary schools around the country, and also because of special voucher deals on books.

What is World Book Day 2021

This year's World Book Day - the 24th one in history - falls on Thursday 4 March 2021. The event is always held on the first Thursday of March each year.

The date was chosen because it was the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, a prominent Spanish Chronicler. Schools around the world encourage children to dress up as their favourite book characters to celebrate the event, and will have special celebrations on the day that encourage a love for reading. For World Book Day, UNESCO, along with National Book Tokens Ltd, offer 15 million GBP1 book tokens to children nationally, a figure that amounts to nearly one for every child under the age of 18 in the UK.

Where to get the GBP1 book voucher in 2021?

Millions of GBP1 book tokens have been sent out around the UK to schools for distribution.

Schools and nurseries normally hand out physical tokens to pupils, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed this slightly. World Book Day has been working with teachers and nursery leaders to provide the printed tokens and new single-use digital versions that can be printed at home or shown to booksellers on a phone or tablet screen. The token will also be on McDonald's Happy Meal boxes through February and March, and in some children's magazines.

The GBP1 tokens can be swapped for one of the new and completely free World Book Day books available from participating booksellers, or used to get GBP1 off any full price book or audiobook instead (as long as the book or audiobook costs at least GBP2.99). Digital tokens are also available for children who are being home-schooled. Parents can apply for tokens here.

Which retailers are participating in World Book Day 2021?

The best way to check which local retailers and book stores are accepting tokens is to use this handy postcode checker through the Booksellers Association.

The tokens will also be accepted at all major UK supermarkets, including Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, and most large bookshop chains including WHSmith, Waterstones, and Eason. The World Book Day GBP1 book tokens cannot be used for online purchases.

How long are World Book Tokens valid for?

World Book Day GBP1 tokens will be valid from Thursday 18 February to Sunday 28 March 2021. Participating booksellers will honour the tokens beyond 28 March while stocks last.

Each retailer will decide whether they are able to offer GBP1 off other children's titles.

Which books are available for GBP1 in 2021?

World Book Day has made a whole host of books available for GBP1 this year, with books suitable for all ages. Tom Fletcher's There's A Wolf In Your Book' and Kill Joy by Holly Jackson are among the selection for primary school pupils and teenagers. A full list of the books available using the GBP1 scheme is available to view on the World Book Day website.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, Edinburgh Evening News

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Is the UK lagging behind in the global full fiber revolution?

The shift to full fiber has been taking place on a global scale for over a decade.  On a weekly basis 'build and connect' announcements are being made from all players in the market, it would seem that the UK is on the ball and powering ahead with its full fiber revolution. The UK in general has improved its full fiber coverage up from 1 percent back in 2012, but it still playing a long game of catchup with the rest of the world. As of December 2020, the number of UK properties with access to full fiber to the premises (FTTP) connectivity sits at 5.1 million (18 percent of all premises).

And according to research from Cable.co.uk, the UK sits at the unenviable position of 81st in Europe for FTTP connectivity and 47th in the World for broadband speed.

The UK government is also being more cautious on its pledges. In November 2020 it announced that it had rolled back its plans for ubiquitous 'gigabit-speed' broadband by 2025 - amending the figure to 'a minimum of 85 percent'. It came as no great surprise to the digital infrastructure industry, the target to connect 100 percent of UK homes and businesses has always been seen as a pipe dream.

The 'superfast broadband' currently accessed by over 95 percent of UK premises, is delivered by Fiber-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology - a blend of copper and fiber optic cables. The fiber only goes as far as the street cabinet and it's the copper line that connects the cabinet to the premises. It's a technology that was once world-leading but is no longer fit for purpose and may once have been enough to deliver the connectivity needs of a nation pre-pandemic.

The lockdown struggles of home working, online education and healthcare, as well as virtual family connections, have been compounded by often patchy broadband - and the nation is demanding more. What the UK needs a ubiquitous true full fiber to the premises (FTTP) network - a dedicated future-proof connection where the fiber optic cables are laid all the way into residential and commercial properties.  One of the main barriers to the deployment of a UK-wide FTTP network is funding.

The cost of full fiber

With an estimated price tag of around GBP30billion building, and rolling out, a nationwide full fiber broadband network is no mean feat. It's a major national infrastructure project.

Primary responsibility for broadband policy and coverage targets sits with the government - telecommunications is a reserved power. And the full fiber infrastructure is an intrinsic part of the government's investment in projects to improve the UK's long-term competitiveness and help to kick-start the economy post-Covid-19. With this in mind, the government made a series of budget announcements and pledges in 2020 to revitalize Britain's broadband.

All communicated as part of the nation's levelling-up agenda. The Spending Review 2020 included GBP100bn of capital spending in 2021-22. Over GBP260 million is being earmarked for transformative digital infrastructure programs, including the Shared Rural Network for 4G coverage, Local Full Fiber Networks, and 5G.

A GBP5 billion commitment to support, and subsidize, the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK (but only GBP1.2bn being made available up until 2024) was also made. Then just before Christmas, Scotland's Full Fiber Charter - a series of pledges by the Scottish government to help extend full fiber broadband across Scotland - was announced. Followed by the DCMS' announcement in January of a consultation on the changes to the Electronic Communications Code.

This is the regulation that governs the rights of telecommunications operators to install and maintain their apparatus on public and private land. Added to this is a whole raft of government funding options, from Broadband voucher schemes for small businesses and rural residents, and the Local Full Fiber Network (LFFN) Programme. But this may not be enough funding to achieve the levels of connectivity the UK expects and deserves - and potentially the new 'minimum of 85 percent' target.

Fiber deployment during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is not entirely to blame for the slow fiber rollout.

During the first lockdown in 2020, the telecoms industry was added to the list of the critical sectors vital to the government's response to the pandemic. It also made the decision to actively encourage local authorities not to introduce blanket refusals of permits or notices for street works. In pre-Covid times, the process to get the greenlight to undertake street works to install fiber could take up to 3 months.

The pandemic is continuing to hamper some parts of the full fiber connectivity supply chain, but the government's response enabled network construction to accelerate. Those involved in the rollout of full fiber adapted to the working environment to ensure there was no significant delay to gigabit speed rollout across the UK. However, while the government's commitment to delivering infrastructure remains undeterred, the country's fiscal position has substantially worsened.

The pandemic has placed an enormous and unexpected burden on the UK economy. The resulting financial strain must not be allowed to derail the UK's infrastructure spending ambitions.  Access to gigabit connectivity is an integral part of 21st century living and vital for economic and socio-economic growth, transforming communities with 'smart' initiatives and improvements such as better access to employment, education and healthcare.

As FTTP infrastructure is future-proof there will be no restrictions on the introduction of new applications and services.

So, is private funding or investment the answer?

The government's policy for 'gigabit-broadband infrastructure' has always been that it will be mostly built by private investment. At a time when public purses have been stretched by unprecedented Covid-19 support measures, the industry cannot, and should not, rely solely on public funding. The private sector now has an even more important role to play in helping to bridge the gap needed to deliver the government's vision for future internet connectivity.

And to ensure the UK is not being left behind in a global digital transformation shift. In this context, private funding and/or investment is one of the solutions available to fibering up, faster. In fact, private sector investment should be a major driver of the UK's 'infrastructure revolution'. 

But it's not always that easy for private investors to play their part. To support its ambitious infrastructure agenda and provide better connectivity, at good value for taxpayers, the government must reinvigorate the UK infrastructure market. The government, together with OFCOM, made a commitment to make policy reforms to promote a competitive market for the roll-out of gigabit- capable infrastructure.

A lack of clarity surrounding the availability of private investment opportunities within infrastructure projects still remains. It needs to be addressed and the government must commit to an approach that gives confidence to investors and capitalizes on the attributes of businesses and the public sector.  This will help the UK to establish itself once again as a world class destination for investment. One way of doing this to open-up - and communicate the availability of - individual regional or local digital infrastructure projects to multiple external investors.

Not only does this present a huge and scalable opportunity it could open-up a more sustainable territory for private investors. The importance of allowing the UK digital infrastructure and telecoms sector to fiber-up faster has never been more pertinent. But in order to do this, the UK government needs to work with the industry to remove the private investment constraints.

Then the telecoms industry can take control of the UK's digital future, giving it the true FTTP network it deserves.

Mikael Sandberg, chairman, VX Fiber