SME Body Calls For Better Broadband

The Federation Of Small Businesses Has Called Britain's Broadband 'Not Fit For Purpose'

14.07.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

Britain's small businesses are being let down by unacceptably poor levels of broadband provision levels, an SME lobby group has claimed.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published a report that calls for the government to be more ambitious in the targets it sets for rolling out high-speed business broadband across the country.

It noted that around 45,000 firms are still on dial-up, while tens of thousands more are having to get by with speeds lower than 2Mbps.

These struggles contrasted with the perceived need for good broadband services, with 94 per cent of firms in the survey saying it is vital for them to have fast internet connections.

The FSB has called on the government to commit to making it possible for all businesses in the UK to be able to access speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2018-19 and 100Mbps by 2030, no matter where they are located.

It noted that similar commitments have been made by other governments, with Denmark seeking to hit the 10Mbps target by 2020 and South Korea aiming to ensure 90 per cent of its population can enjoy 100Mbps by 2017.

National chairman of the FSB John Allan commented: "We want [the] government to oversee the creation of world-beating digital infrastructure that will enable businesses to grow, innovate and compete in international markets. This means not only raising download speeds, but also upload speeds that are so important."

He added that if this is not achieved, firms will be unable to fulfil their potential and the government will not achieve its aim of enabling every company to regard filling in tax returns online as a "default" option.

In June 2013 the government outlined its latest plans to extend superfast broadband to rural areas with slower internet connections, allocating an extra £250 million with the aim of giving 95 per cent of premises access to superfast broadband by 2017. This included £40 million to be split between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Expert Opinion
There are very few sectors in the business world in the 21st century which are not reliant on an online presence or access to quality broadband, whether it is purely to communicate and engage with clients or alternatively to actively promote and sell services. This is why concerns like those raised by the FSB are so significant and must be addressed.

"The Government has said time and time again in the past few months that small businesses hold the key to driving the economy forward. However, they will only be able to help with doing that when they themselves have access to the tools they need to support their development.

"The concerns raised by the FSB need to be seriously investigated to see what else can be done to ensure all businesses have access to a high standard of broadband connectivity. It is a vital tool in the arsenal of small businesses as they look to thrive and also take on larger competitors through the development of their operations."
Steven Beahan, Partner