UK SME Businesses put the boot into broadband

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Two thirds of UK businesses, enterprises and SMEs, believe poor internet connectivity is stifling new working practices and say current broadband speeds are impeding the growth of the UK economy, according to a wide ranging new study released today by the UK’s newest wholesale broadband provider, BE Wholesale.

More than one in three businesses in Britain said their current internet connection wouldn’t support new collaborative working applications such as video conferencing and VOIP. Consequently, 72 per cent of people from enterprise and SMEs think faster, more reliable broadband will ultimately make their business more competitive.

However, there’s a clear awareness of the business benefits of such applications with over 60 per cent of respondents believing unified communications, for example, would reduce their costs and increase productivity. A belief supported by both enterprise and SME businesses that have already trialled new IP-based services; 80 per cent of whom report strong financial benefits.

Commissioned by BE Wholesale and carried out by independent research specialist Dynamic Markets, the survey looks at the adoption of new collaborative and cost saving web applications in a broad range of over 500 businesses across the UK, including SMEs and larger companies, and investigates whether the current broadband provision is a barrier or enabler.
Other key findings showed that British businesses are quick to see the opportunities of Web 2.0:

29 per cent of SMEs have experimented or are considering using at least one type of internet based business application

23 per cent of SMEs say employee remote access (VPN) is now a key business tool

21 per cent of SMEs have adopted VOIP as essential part of their business infrastructure

But there’s a worrying disconnect for both larger companies and SMEs, between the promises of new applications and many broadband networks’ ability to deliver on them.

60 per cent of respondents don’t believe they’re receiving the speeds they’re paying for

38 per cent of businesses think their internet connections cannot support applications such as high definition video conferencing and VOIP

Six out of ten businesses would adopt new collaborative applications, but only if they’re sure these wouldn’t impact email and web search based activities

According to Dan Cunliffe, Head of BE Wholesale, service providers need to think differently: “If SMEs want to save money and gain competitor advantage by investing in unified communications; remote access or VOIP for example, then their broadband needs to be able to support this.”

“All too often providers concentrate on the pipe, rather than what it’s there to do; which is helping businesses adopt and use tools that allow them to be more productive, more efficient and more competitive. The research brings this into stark contrast and highlights the need for a mindset change right across the broadband and ISP market.”

Dr Cherry Taylor, Managing Director of Dynamic Markets, said: “Today’s results suggest that many broadband networks are failing British businesses, with worrying ramifications for the UK economy as a whole. While there is clear enthusiasm for new internet-based collaboration and productivity tools, there’s little confidence that current networks can deliver.”