Study shows importance of good broadband for small firms

IN: Business news

Securing a reliable broadband connection is now a major consideration for the UK's small businesses, Citizens Advice has stressed.

Securing a reliable broadband connection is now a major consideration for the UK's small businesses, Citizens Advice has stressed.undefined

The charity and consumer advocate released a report showing that more than half of smaller firms that rely on the internet would lose money or business, or couldn't trade at all, if they did not have a dependable service.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of small businesses have experienced difficulties with phones and broadband, according to the findings. These amenities have proven more problematic than other essential provisions such as energy, postal deliveries and water.

Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed by Citizens Advice had made a complaint to their internet provider. Almost all grievances (92 per cent) were related to intermittent service or no connection at all.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of the charity, said: "Poor broadband services are costing small firms business.

"Many are using the internet to communicate with customers, place orders for stock and shop around for the best priced supplies. A reliable broadband service is essential for firms to be able to operate."

Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said geographical factors and the nature of the economy mean many Scottish businesses are vulnerable to internet problems.

The country is home to 150,000 small enterprises, 50,000 of which are based in rural areas, where the risk of encountering difficulties with broadband connections is higher.

Other findings from the research showed that nearly half (46 per cent) of the UK's smaller companies are concerned about the cost of electricity.

Nearly a third are anxious about a lack of customers or demand, while 16 per cent said access to new finance is a worry.

Ms Guy pointed out that Britain is experiencing a "surge in entrepreneurialism", but the needs of small businesses often go unrecognised. These organisations don't benefit from the consumer protections afforded to households or have the negotiating power of large corporations.

Citizens Advice called on regulators and business groups to ensure small firms are not at a disadvantage and receive the support they need to thrive.

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