Broadband speeds bother businesses stuck in internet slow lane

ByAnthony Hill
Broadband speeds

Business owners say the UK's broadband isn’t fit for purpose, and that the government should be setting more ambitious targets for bringing rural areas better speeds and service...

Broadband speeds in the UK aren't good enough, and will need to improve if we're going to compete in business with other European countries, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

It's asking the government to commit to delivering speeds of at least 10Mb to all homes and businesses by 2019 and would like to see the figure reach 1Gb by 2030.

FSB research shows that 94% of small business owners think reliable broadband is "critical" to success. However, at least 45,000 small firms in the UK are still on dial-up speeds, and only 15% of small businesses are fully satisfied with their broadband.

Fibre optic broadband

John Allan, chairman of the FSB, said: "The fact that we have around 45,000 businesses still on dial-up is unacceptable and many more throughout the country, even in London, are receiving poor service.

"Evidence from our members shows this clearly is a problem affecting all corners of the UK, rural areas and cities alike. While progress has been made with the residential market, businesses have not enjoyed the same benefits, which is holding back their growth."

At the moment, the UK government is aiming to reach at least 95% of the UK's homes and businesses with superfast broadband - offering download speeds of at least 24Mb - by the end of 2017, with the remaining 5% promised at least 2Mb.

However, compared to what's happening in other countries - such as Finland, which is aiming for a universal speed of 100Mb by 2015 - the UK's plans seem a bit weak.

In South Korea, which has already got the world's fastest average broadband speeds, it's expected that everyone will have access to 1Gb 'ultrafast' broadband by 2017.

So, why's the UK lagging so far behind? Well, South Korea's impressive speeds - and it's much more ambitious future plans - are down to investment in fibre optic technology.

You see, South Korea's broadband is unhindered by old-fashioned copper telephone wire, which is still used in some way to connect the vast majority of UK homes to the internet.

The good news is the UK government's currently investing more than £500million to replace the copper wire that connects homes and businesses to their provider's network with superfast fibre optic cables capable of delivering much faster speeds.

About two-thirds of us already have access to superfast broadband, such as Sky Fibre or BT Infinity - offering speeds of up to 76Mb, and if you live in a Virgin Media area you can get up to 152Mb.

Click here for more mobile, TV and internet news 

Would your business benefit from faster broadband? Have your say below.

Want more from Anthony? Get him on TwitterGoogle+ or by email

How would you rate broadbandchoices?  Help us improve by writing a review