In a new report published today, the Federation of Small businesses (FSB) is calling for the government to adopt much more ambitious targets for rolling out high speed broadband for businesses across the UK.
With an estimated 45,000 firms still on dial up, and many more struggling with speeds lower than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps), it is clear that while the residential market may be seeing the benefits of high speed broadband, this is often not the case for the business community, says the report. The UK’s forthcoming digital infrastructure strategy therefore needs to recognise this issue and put small businesses at the front and centre of future rollout plans, so that they can enjoy the benefits too.
Almost every (94%) small firm views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business. The current government targets of 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population and 2Mbps for the remaining five per cent will not meet the future demands of UK businesses. For example, even in areas where households have high speed broadband, some businesses still struggle to send digital invoices, upload large files or even communicate with clients via the internet. The current targets will not allow for the UK’s ‘digital by default’ strategy or polices such as Real Time Information that rely on reliable broadband to be delivered successfully.
The FSB’s new report, ‘The 4th Utility: Delivering universal broadband connectivity for small businesses across the UK’, highlights the scale of the problem and sets out what small businesses want to see change.
Commenting on the state of the business broadband market, John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The fact that we have around 45,000 businesses still on dial up is unacceptable and many more throughout the country, even in London, are receiving poor service. Evidence from our members shows this clearly is a problem affecting all corners of the UK, rural areas and cities alike. While progress has been made with the residential market, businesses have not enjoyed the same benefits, which is holding back their growth. We therefore want to see the UK Government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre. Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.”