Major Rethink Needed on UK Broadband, FSB Say

News Article - Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:26

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

A report produced by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) says that the UK government need to have a major rethink on the country’s broadband target, calling it "not fit for purpose”.

The report found that 94% of small business owners believe a stable internet connection to be vital to the success of their company. However, it was also found that as many as 45,000 businesses in the UK are still using dial-up speeds and just 15% are happy with their current broadband offering.

The FSB said that when compared to other nations, the UK is simply not ambitious enough in its plans and called for "the government to commit to delivering a minimum of 10Mbps (megabits per second) for all homes and businesses by 2018/19.”

"If small businesses are to thrive and prosper and contribute to a growing economy, they need universal access to what is now considered the fourth utility," the report said.

However, the government and BT both said that the findings were unrealistic and that the report didn’t reflect the reality of the situation, although it was acknowledged that the report is correct in highlighting the importance of a good connection to business.

"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," said John Allan, chairman of the FSB.

"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."

BT said in a statement that some businesses in the report had said that they couldn’t access a fibre connection when one was actually available to them. The telecoms company went on to say that 73% of UK premises can already access fibre and it’s expected that this figure will rise to 90% within the next two years.

"In rural areas, more than 600,000 businesses and homes across the nation are already reaping the benefits of superfast access, and we're reaching 30,000 more every single week,” added the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"In our cities, more than 1,000 SME's (small and medium-sized businesses) have already made use of our vouchers to boost their connectivity and free public Wi-Fi (sic) is being rolled out in city centres and on public transport across the UK."

It went on to say that the government will be publishing a new strategy for the UK’s digital infrastructure by the end of this year. The new report will consider plans for the next ten to fifteen years.

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