UK broadband isn’t up to speed for small businesses, according to a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The business lobby group warns that small firms are losing out due to poor broadband connections that don’t offer the speeds required by today’s digital world.
The survey indicates that 94% of small business owners consider a reliable Internet connection critical to the success of their business. And yet, only 15% of firms say they are very satisfied with their broadband provision.
Small businesses have identified slow and unreliable broadband service as their main barrier to growth.
The report also reveals that 45,000 UK small businesses are still on dial-up, suggesting that firms in some areas face outdated (not just slow) Internet connections.
According to the FSB, the Government’s intention to provide download speeds of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second) for everyone in the UK doesn’t go far enough.
To meet the needs of British firms, the FSB wants the government to deliver a minimum download speed of 10Mbps for all homes and businesses by 2018-19.
People living and working in rural areas can find unreliable Internet a particular struggle. However, businesses and towns can also suffer from low broadband speeds.
A business park in Greater Manchester located four minutes from a cabinet enabled with fibre-optic broadband is not covered, and yet local residents enjoy good speeds. Unfortunately for businesses in the area, they have to pay a lot more for their leased lines than consumers pay.
So how can you improve your broadband connection?
1. First of all, check your speed by running a broadband speed test on a site like speedtest.net. If it is slow, contact your provider to see if they can alter any settings to help.
2. Make sure your Wi-Fi is secure and password-protected. If your network is not secured, anyone can access it, causing speeds to drop.
3. If you’re in the habit of turning off all office equipment to reduce business energy use, then keep up the good work! But, consider leaving your router switched on overnight. Regularly switching it off can reduce your broadband speed because the exchange will think your line is unstable and unable to cope with higher speeds.
4. Get creative and explore local DIY broadband initiatives. Consider setting up your own Internet Service Provider. If you work in a rural area, get the community together to raise funds to install a fibre optic network.
Are you a small business affected by slow broadband? How does this affect your business development? Tell us your thoughts below.