Slow broadband holds back rural business

Internet speeds are an issue for two-thirds of businesses based in rural areas, finds a survey of business owners.

Faster broadband in rural areas has huge benefits for UK business, according to research.

An Institute of Directors (IoD) survey found two-thirds of firms based in out-of-town areas have broadband speeds they're not happy with. Only 34% of rural business leaders claimed to be satisfied with their current service.

Mobile broadband is seen as an even bigger problem, with just 13% of respondents getting a satisfactory 3G connection.

Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser to the IoD, said: "Fast, reliable internet connections are essential to a modern business - but far too often our existing infrastructure falls short.

"Increasing internet speeds would encourage many employers to invest in expanding their businesses and taking on more staff, giving the economy a welcome boost."

The survey also revealed that 83% of IoD members believe faster broadband would improve productivity, while 31% said they'd be encouraged to invest more in their business and 13% would be more likely to hire new staff.

Better broadband would encourage 56% to offer flexible working opportunities.

Taylor commented: "The digital age is about flexibility and efficiency, but rural businesses in particular are missing out on those advantages because the landline and mobile networks simply aren't up to scratch in large parts of the countryside.

"There is a lot of work to be done before the service provided in the real world matches up to the rhetoric coming from Westminster and Whitehall."

The government is currently aiming to bring superfast connections - with speeds of at least 24Mb - to 90% of the country, to ensure that Britain has the best broadband in Europe by 2015. The remaining 10% have been promised an upgrade to speeds of at least 2Mb.

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