Unreliable phones and broadband a big problem for small firms

More than half of small firms who use the internet would make less money if they didn’t have reliable broadband, and yet many research shows many of them fall into that category.

Unreliable broadband is a problem almost a third of small businesses in the UK have to deal with, according to research by Citizens Advice.

In a survey of 2,000 small UK firms, the national charity and consumer advocate found that 30% are concerned about their slow and unreliable internet access. A third had experienced technical issues with their broadband or phone in the past 12 months.

It found that a higher proportion of companies have problems with broadband and phone lines than with other overheads like energy, water and postal services.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Poor broadband services are costing small firms business. Many are using the internet to communicate with customers, place orders for stock and shop around for the best priced supplies.

"A reliable broadband service is essential for firms to be able to operate."

The survey also found that a quarter of small companies have complained to their internet provider about problems, the most common of which being intermittent service or no connection at all. For others, it's simply a matter of slow speeds.

Margaret Lynch, head of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: "Due to our geography and the make-up of our economy, many businesses in Scotland are vulnerable to broadband problems.

"Any problems that these enterprises face can threaten their viability and can mean a poorer service for local consumers. In rural areas, this can have a bigger impact than in larger towns where workers can find other employment and consumers can use other businesses."

Businesses relying on the internet for sales, operations or communication between staff and customers should definitely consider upgrading to 'superfast' fibre optic broadband, which is now available at around two-thirds of UK premises.

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