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Business group gives broadband warning

The UK government should adopt much more ambitious targets for rolling out high-speed broadband for firms across the UK, according to a business group.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that, with an estimated 45,000 firms still on dial-up – and many more struggling with speeds lower than two megabits per second (Mbps) – it is clear that while the residential market may be seeing the benefits of high speed broadband, this is often not the case for the business community.

According to a report by the group, almost every (94 per cent) small firm views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business. The current Government targets of 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population and 2Mbps for the remaining five per cent will not meet the future demands of UK businesses.

John Allan, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, 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. We therefore want to see the UK government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre. Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.

'As this report shows, too many of our small firms are held back by the current state of the broadband market in the UK. We want Government to oversee the creation of world-beating digital infrastructure that will enable businesses to grow, innovate and compete in international markets.

'This means not only raising download speeds but also upload speeds that are so important and where provision is especially inadequate.  Otherwise firms' growth ambitions will be blunted, while Government efforts to get every firm to go ‘digital by default' when filing its taxes online will be impossible to achieve.'

Full release at www.fsb.org.uk

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