Small Businesses 'Hindered' By Unreliable Broadband

Unreliable Broadband Connections Could Be Hindering The Progress Of SMEs

01.10.2014

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

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK may be having their progress hindered by unreliable broadband connections, according to a new report.

Citizens Advice carried out a survey involving 2,000 small businesses, finding that three in ten are concerned about their internet access, with one-third having experienced a problem getting online or using their phone system at some point during the past year.

In addition, one-third of respondents reported that they felt anxious about either a lack of customers or dwindling demand for their services, indicating that their broadband troubles could perhaps be to blame for this.

Furthermore, nearly one in four SMEs have had to complain about their internet connection to their service provider, with 92 per cent of these complaints centring around small businesses not being able to access the web whatsoever.

Failure to get online could result in a loss of money and business for small firms, the report found.

Chief executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy commented: "Poor broadband services are costing small firms business. Many are using the internet to communicate with customers, place orders for stock and shop around for the best-priced supplies.

"A reliable broadband service is essential for firms to be able to operate."

Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, added that poor broadband connections were a particularly prevalent problem for small companies based in more remote areas.

She explained: "In rural areas, this can have a bigger impact than in larger towns where workers can find other employment and consumers can use other businesses."

However, it was not just broadband that was found to be problematic for some SMEs, as concerns regarding utility bills were also prevalent among survey respondents.

For instance, 46 per cent said they were concerned about the cost of electricity, which follows on from the concerns highlighted by the Federation of Small Businesses in a survey it conducted earlier this year, showing 65 per cent of small businesses experienced difficulties when trying to switch their energy provider.

Expert Opinion
For the vast majority of SMEs, being able to offer and promote products and services online is an essential tool in their efforts to grow and develop their offerings.

"This research related to unreliable broadband is clearly a massive concern when it comes to this issue, as the only small businesses are going to thrive is if they have high quality tools at their disposal.

"It is vital that work continues to ensure that, regardless of their location, SMEs are able to access quality internet services. Equally important is that, once they have quality services, small businesses seek legal advice on compliance with key legal issues related to the online world.

"This will include compliance with data protection regulations and other vital areas of the law."
Steven Beahan, Partner