Slow net speeds a growing concern for SMEs


Slow net speeds a growing concern for SMEs

Alex Scroxton

SME advocacy group, the Forum of Private Business (FPB), has released figures suggesting that just under a quarter of British SMEs are deriding their Internet connection speeds as inadequate.

This comes after Ofcom last week announced it would compel BT to open up its fibre lines, as well as underground ducts and telegraph infrastructure to competitors in an attempt to spur investment in the UK's broadband network.

Competitors such as TalkTalk and Virgin Media are already expected to begin taking advantage of the new arrangement.

In the wake of Ofcom's announcement Mark Seemann, CTO at UC and cloud provider Outsourcery, said the market was increasingly unwilling to wait the five to 10 years it could take to bring the UK's infrastructure up to scratch, and called for stopgap measures to ensure SMEs remain competitive.

Seemann called for the establishment of a "Broadband Grant system whereby businesses can receive government subsidised discounts for ordering private circuits from BT, Virgin and other Independent Service providers".

"These private circuits are available now but the cost of installation and rental usually place these out of the reach of small and medium sized businesses," he continued.

"A grant system would allow UK businesses to benefit from 100mb broadband now whilst the new national broadband infrastructure is being built."

The FPB's poll covered SME attitudes to technology and revealed big gaps in attitudes, with 19% of respondents saying they did not have a website.

Just over half of respondents were using social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter in their day-to-day business, but half of them had doubts about the value of the websites, and 6% dismissed them as useless.

Higher numbers said dealing with spam email and the possibility of electronic fraud were the biggest concerns in relation to take-up of technology within the business, evidence of growing demand for security tools.

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