Small businesses 'most likely to suffer from unreliable broadband'

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Small businesses are more likely to struggle with unreliable broadband than their larger counterparts, experts have warned.

According to research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), 24 per cent of sole traders report connectivity issues, along with 21 per cent of micro-businesses.

Companies based in rural locations were also found to be especially likely to have unreliable broadband services.

Indeed, 30 per cent of companies based in non-urban areas said they experience connectivity problems.

This compares with 15 per cent of firms in towns, 13 per cent of those in inner cities and 12 per cent of ventures based in the suburbs.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said unreliable connections are causing "needless delays, costs and frustration" and affecting businesses in "every corner of the UK".

However, he stressed that small businesses and those in the countryside are "most likely to suffer".

"An unreliable connection acts as an obstacle to growth and puts those firms most in need of support at a competitive disadvantage," Dr Marshall commented.

"Throughout the country, significant numbers of companies of every size and sector lack reliable internet connectivity - a basic requirement for businesses to operate efficiently in today’s world."

Ninety-nine per cent of companies surveyed by the BCC said a reliable broadband connection is important to them.

However, 18 per cent said they struggle with unreliable connections, with seven per cent of these going as far as saying their broadband is "not at all reliable".

The survey indicated that if their connections were better, they would be able to do more and make better use of digital services.

For instance, 48 per cent of respondents said a more reliable broadband connection would enable to them to use more applications, such as cloud-based services.

"The immediate focus must be on providing all companies with connections that are reliable and of sufficient speed, which would boost business confidence and encourage firms to maximise opportunities for growth, trade and investment," Dr Marshall added.