BUSINESS BROADBAND LINES are still running slower than many consumer lines, according to the latest Ofcom survey.
Ofcom's annual Connected Nations survey (PDF) found that smaller firms are lagging behind, and that only 68 percent of small businesses have access to superfast broadband compared with 83 percent of the UK as a whole.
This means that over 400,000 small firms have no access to superfast broadband, and almost half of small business on business parks are unable to receive speeds above 10Mbps. Ofcom defines superfast connections as 30Mbps or higher.
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We know poor access and understanding of the availability of superfast broadband has been a long-standing problem for the UK’s smaller businesses. Progress is being made, but too many small firms remain stuck in the slow lane.
“Today’s report underlines the importance of the government’s new commitment to a 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation [USO]. This timely measure will help to set an acceptable baseline for speed and quality which will allow firms to take advantage of the benefits of doing more online."
Allan added that the new USO should include explicit targets for connecting smaller businesses and delivering a reliable, consistent service.
The Ofcom report goes on to suggest that by 2017, when 95 percent of premises are expected to have access to superfast broadband, 17 percent of small businesses will still be left behind.
One worker for an IT company told us that the slow speeds and constant disconnects being caused by poor internet accessibility made his job significantly more difficult, and that productivity and quality of work are being reduced to below a level he feels comfortable with through no fault of his own.
Other headlines from the report include the expansion of broadband in rural areas, where private initiatives often lead to the fastest lines. A 5Gbps offering recently made available in selected locations was the first to offer 'ultrafast' broadband, defined as speeds over 300Mbps, and currently available only to two percent of premises.
Over 80 percent of homes are capable of receiving superfast broadband, and 27 percent now take up subscriptions. Those with access to high speeds are using significantly more data, suggesting that the use of the internet is changing to reflect the possibilities offered by faster services, such as 4K video. µ
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