Government policy under fire as new survey reveals Internet strategy should focus on coverage not speed
By ECM Plus staff
ECM Plus /London/ +++ A new report of 1,500 British small businesses reveals that 57 percent stated that the ‘poor quality of their internet access’ is now adversely affecting their ability to do business.
According to the findings, by Freelancer.co.uk, small businesses in Britain are now at odds with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who reiterated in a speech at the Google Campus building that broadband speed is more important than coverage.
However, the small business survey found that 65 percent of British small businesses actually believe that there is still a ‘rural urban Internet divide’, with many businesses in rural areas unable to take advantage of new business opportunities the Internet brings.
The survey further found that 65 percent of small businesses are worried that if the Government continues to put speed above coverage, many businesses in rural areas will suffer.
They believe that the government is not interested in bridging this gap, the survey found.
Moreover, businesses in urban areas, such as the South East were just as worried as businesses in rural areas about the lack of consistent coverage across the nation.
Thw survey’s findings come as the internet and e-commerce is playing an ever-important role in regenerating the British economy, contributing more than £34.9 billion in the first six months of 2012, according to IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales index.
Yet, businesses in rural areas are unable to take advantage of this growth, the survey added. According to Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.co.uk, it is crucial that Internet coverage is consistent across the whole of Britain to support business development.
“Reliable and robust Internet access is essential for all UK businesses to take advantage of new business opportunities the Internet provides” he said. “It is isn’t just e-commerce, but businesses are now relying on cloud technology as well as carrying out important business communications. It shouldn’t be easier for someone in London to have a business Skype call with someone in Pakistan than with someone in Halesworth in Suffolk” he added.
“We have seen 300 percent growth but this is in urban areas. Rural businesses just aren’t being allowed to take advantage of the growing business opportunities that should be just a mouse click away.”