Business secretary: Firms needs faster, more reliable broadband
A wide-ranging review of business broadband in the UK will give every business access to the connectivity they need to thrive, according to Sajid Javid.
The business secretary announced the review in a speech at the annual conference of the EEF, the industry body for engineering and manufacturing employers.
In January, research by Virgin Media Business found that slow broadband is the biggest time-waster for small businesses.
A YouGov study for the company, which questioned 1,103 senior decision makers in British small and medium businesses, found that the average employee loses 15 minutes a day because of slow connections, meaning a business with eight employees could lose a full day of work each week.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) previously revealed that many businesses are frustrated with the quality of broadband service they’re getting.
An FSB report, ‘Reassured, optimised, transformed: driving digital demand among small businesses’, highlighted the gap between what businesses expect from their broadband, and what they actually get.
According to the federation, its members said their service often fell short of what they need or were told to expect.
In his speech to the EEF, Mr Javid announced a new review, led jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, that will look at increasing the level of affordable and high quality fibre broadband available to businesses.
Building on the government’s rollout of superfast broadband – which aims to take speeds of 24Mbps or faster to 95% of the UK by 2017 – the review will look at what steps can be taken to encourage choice and competition, driving down prices while delivering a better service.
Mr Javid said: “I want Britain to be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and to lead the world in innovation.
“Developing new technologies, an extensive digital infrastructure, vibrant competition and consumer choice are all vital for UK businesses and central to the UK being at the forefront of ‘Industry 4.0’.
“That is why today I have announced a wide-ranging review of business broadband in the UK.
“As a one nation government I want every business, regardless of size or location, to benefit from access to the fast, reliable connectivity they need to thrive.”
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, said: “Access to high quality broadband is critical for business and manufacturers increasingly rely on it.
“This review is therefore timely and should lead to a significant push by government and providers to help improve digital connectivity and affordability so that companies in the UK can take advantage of more global opportunities.”
In November, Virgin Media announced the launch of a new 300Mbps broadband service for its business customers, delivering what Virgin claims are the fastest widely available broadband speeds in the UK.
The announcement came just a day after the company started offering free broadband installation to small businesses following the closure of the government’s voucher scheme.
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