Many small firms 'lacking digital support'

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Many small businesses across the UK may be lacking superfast connectivity

A new publication from communications industry regulator Ofcom has revealed the extent to which many small businesses may be languishing in the digital slow lane.

According to the findings of the Connected Nations 2015 report, just one-third (32 per cent) of small business premises across the UK are currently able to receive superfast broadband services - this is in comparison to 83 per cent of properties across the national as a whole.

Based on the research, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) extrapolated that as many as 400,000 UK small firms may be unable to connect to superfast broadband services of 30 megabits per second (Mbps) or more.

At the same time, the Ofcom report revealed that around 50 per cent of small firms are also failing to benefit from speeds of 10 Mbps or more.

Responding to the report, national chairman of the FSB John Allan argued that the results mean the government must now increase its commitment to delivering a Universal Service Obligation (USO) of 10 Mbps to all parts of the UK or face growing unrest within the small business segment.

He said: "We know poor access and understanding of the availability of superfast broadband has been a longstanding problem for the UK’s smaller businesses. Progress is being made, but too many small firms remain stuck in the slow lane.

"When the details of the new USO are unveiled, they should include explicit targets for connecting smaller businesses and delivering a reliable, consistent service."

Failure to ensure that smaller firms are able to benefit from the digital revolution will not only hinder their own ability to deliver financial growth, the FSB warned, but also that of the nation as a whole in the years ahead.