Small firms left behind in fast broadband race - Ofcom

Ofcom wants greater collaboration between industry and government to improve broadband services

SMALLER firms in Northern Ireland are by far the best served by superfast broadband in the UK.

And now regulator Ofcom is calling for greater collaboration between industry and government to bring Britain up to the same standard.

Its analysis found that 69 per cent of small companies had access to internet speeds of more than 30Mb, compared to a UK average of 56 per cent. In Wales, the figure is just over a third of SMEs.

In a new report Broadband Services for SMEs, Ofcom found 83 per cent of small businesses consider communications services to be fundamental to their business, and 78 per cent use a fixed broadband connection.

It also announced an agreement from three of the UK's largest suppliers – BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to work on a new code of practice for business broadband services.

Ofcom said rolling out services to households was treated as a higher priority to getting business connected.

While 95 per cent of all premises will be served by superfast broadband by 2017, around 18 per cent of SMEs may still not have access.

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said: “Small businesses are essential to the UK economy, and most rely on telecoms services to carry out their everyday work. But some companies lack the resources or expertise to get the services they need.

“We've made clear we want to see better broadband coverage, quality of service, information and advice for all consumers, and that means business users too. So we are taking action alongside industry and the government to make that happen.”


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