FSB demands 'first-rate' broadband for its members

13th April 2015 | News

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged political leaders to back small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by investing more in ‘first-rate’ broadband for its 200,000-plus members.

Research last year from the FSB showed that an estimated 45,000 small firms were still relying on dial-up internet and many, many more were struggling with speeds of less than two megabits per second.

Mike Cherry, policy chairman, FSB, said: “Broadband is one of the biggest issues [for small businesses].

“If you haven’t got connectivity then you’ve got problems.”

Mr Cherry, the owner of a family manufacturing business since 1983, insists that in the modern age broadband must be “treated as the fourth utility”.

“Once you put the structure in, then investment follows,” added Cherry.

“Around 94 per cent of our members say it’s critical to the growth of their business – an essential utility that they need to have these days.

“And clearly from our reports, it isn’t delivering what small firms need to grow their business or indeed sometimes even to do business.

“Our ask of Government has been to have 10Mbps by 2018 – that is perfectly deliverable – but then again look at 2030 and say it must be 100Mbps by then to give businesses the support they need to remain competitive in a digital economy.

“There are other European countries and beyond where clearly we aren’t as far advanced.

“If you look at Europe, we are average. Average, when we need to be growing our businesses, taking on more people and competing in a digital world, isn’t enough. We need to be up there and first rate.”

Small firms from architects to agriculturalists, are struggling with poor broadband availability – outside of London especially.

“We have members who need to submit and share detailed architectural plans and they can’t do that from where they are based in the South-West,” added Berry.

“They have to go somewhere, and from what I gather it’s London sometimes, to do that bit of work.”