UK broadband ‘not fit for purpose’ says Federation of Small Businesses

FSB calls for government to roll out high speed broadband to businesses across UK

Small businesses are being “held back” by slow broadband connection and poor broadband access, according to a new report published today by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Titled The 4th Utility: ‘Delivering universal broadband connectivity for small businesses across the UK, the report says that an estimated 45,000 small and medium companies are still on dial up connection with “many more” dealing with speeds lower than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps).

Stating that the government needs to “improve” its digital infrastructure strategy and put small businesses “at the front and centre of future roll out plans”, the study outlines a list of areas that the FSB wants government to change; specifically rolling out broadband with minimum speeds of 10 Mbps to all firms across the UK by 2018-2019.

Claiming that 94% of small enterprises view a reliable internet connection as “critical” to their business’ success, the report calls for government to set a long-term objective of providing minimum speeds of 100 Mbps to all business premises by 2030; a major increase on its current target of 24 Mbps for 95% of the population with 2 Mbps for the remaining 5%.

The report also asks that government set guaranteed bandwidth levels and greater parity between upload and download speeds at affordable prices, as well as the prioritisation of supplying fibre-optic broadband to businesses communities such as retail parks and enterprise zones.

In addition, the FSB wants the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct, at the request of Ofcom, an assessment into the current broadband market and to explore options to boost competition amongst operators and support new entrants into the infrastructure market.

FSB national chairman, John Allan, discussed the report’s recommendations for the broadband market:

“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 5% of the population with a 2 Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.”

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