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Broadband is not up to speed, say small firms

Homes across the UK are already benefiting from faster speeds but many businesses are missing out.

Almost every small business views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business, says the Federation of Small Businesses.

Even in areas where households have high speed broadband, some businesses still struggle to send digital invoices, upload large files or even communicate with clients via the internet.

Small businesses are often self-taught and find it difficult to compete with larger organisations that have massive IT and on-line departments, says the FSB.

Among small businesses dependent on the internet is Country House Kennels and Cattery near Dunstable. The internet has led to lower postage costs as the business uses e-mail to confirm bookings and accepting phone payments by card improves cashflow.  

Owner Richard Davy said: “However we use our residential account as business internet is far too slow. We would like to use the internet more, for example  the use of an e-mail  text service for customer reminders and confirmations as well as weekly rotas to staff by e-mail.”

These are problems affecting many small businesses locally, says FSB Bedfordshire branch chairman Ian Cording.

“Evidence from our members shows this clearly is a problem affecting all corners of our region, rural areas and large towns alike, he added.

“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 local and national government show ambition with its broadband and put business needs at their centre.”

The priority is for faster download and upload speeds. Mr Cording said: “We want government to oversee the creation of world-beating digital infrastructure that will enable businesses to grow, innovate and compete in international markets.

“Otherwise businesses growth ambitions will be blunted, while government efforts to get every firm to go ‘digital by default’ when filing its taxes online will be impossible to achieve.”     

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