UK broadband not 'fit for purpose' claims Federation of Small Businesses

By Peter Gothard
14 Jul 2014 View Comments
4G speed test results from UK Broadband network in Southwark while driving

Only 15 per cent of small UK firms say they are satisfied with the quality of their broadband provision, meaning high-quality broadband in the UK is not "fit for purpose".

This is according to the Federation of Small Businesses' "Fourth Utility" report, in which the group calls for the UK government to rethink its ongoing infrastructure plans for enterprise broadband up to 2017.

Further reading

The report states that 94 per cent of UK small business owners consider a reliable internet connection as critical to success, but that 14 per cent consider a lack of reliable and fast broadband is their main barrier to growth.

Sixty-five per cent of small businesses still have to rely on a wired connection, but only 12 per cent of these can access fibre-optic facilities. Only 35 per cent of small business, says the report, use a mobile broadband connection, while 45,000 small businesses are still using dial-up connections. This amounts to one per cent of small businesses in the UK, according to the report.

The report goes on to call the UK government's plans for a 95 per cent national coverage of 24Mbps broadband "not sufficiently ambitious", fearing that there are little "future-proofed" infrastructure plans for the medium and long term.

The FSB wants the government to aim for 100 per cent coverage of 10Mbps by 2018-19 - rather than 95 per cent coverage at 24Mbps by 2017. This, it argues, should provide a "service level floor" for the entire country, on to which further progress can be built.

The FSB is also calling for government to focus fibre optic broadband connections on "new and existing business parks", and to ensure "enterprise zones and clusters are fully connected".

It also wants better support for "independent providers" under the government's Broadband UK (BDUK) scheme, who it accuses of awarding new broadband contracts to incumbent suppliers, as well as allowing existing providers to enter areas where "viable community networks already exist" and indulging in so-called "overbuilding" to replace infrastructure with its own.

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