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UK firms failed by superslow broadband: FSB calls for 10Mbps for all

The Government should be delivering 10Mbps for all, according to a report issued by the Federation of Small Businesses.

The FSB said that government targets to get speeds of over 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population by 2017 – and 2Mbps for the remaining five – will not meet the future demands of UK businesses. 

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB cited the fact that over 45,000 firms are still using dial-up as evidence of the Government’s failure to support small to medium businesses in the short term. 

The FSB argues that everyone should be on at least 10Mbps by 2019
The FSB argues that everyone should be on at least 10Mbps by 2019

Allan said: “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.” 

Echoing sentiments from former MEP Phil Bennion, FSB instead wants all UK premises to be able to get at least 10Mbps by 2019 and a greater parity between upload and download speeds.  By 2030, this should have jumped up to 100Mbps. 

The report compares British broadband ambitions with those of Denmark, which is committed to offering universal access of 100Mbps to its citizens by 2020 and South Korea, which is gunning for 1Gbps for 90 per cent of premises by 2017. 

Allan added that as well as helping businesses to grow, it will also see Government’s plans for initiatives like Real Time Information (online tax filing) realised. 

In the meantime, businesses unlucky enough to find themselves in the slow lane will continue to struggle. Last week, Labour MP Meg Hillier lifted the lid on one of Tech City’s worst kept secrets – broadband blackspots dotting the terrain of the Coalition’s tech pet project. Regular readers will also be aware of Recombu’s own superfast sob-story from 2012

Part of the Government’s Super Connected Cities plan is a voucher scheme which lets businesses apply for money off getting next-gen broadband installed. This scheme only operates in 22 cities and there’s no equivalent plan for rural companies or businesses operating in smaller cities and towns.

While the various BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects are committed to providing a basic 2Mbps for everyone, a separate £10 million fund has been set up to investigate how the five per cent can get something a bit better than that. A trial is currently underway, looking at how a range of technologies – including wireless, satellite and FTTP – can bridge the rural-urban superfast divide. 

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