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Three UK Survey Claims SMEs Losing £18.77bn Due to Poor Connectivity

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022 (9:00 am) - Score 2,832

A new survey of over 1,000 British Micro and SME businesses, which was commissioned by Three UK, has warned that such firms (i.e. those who provide their employees with work phones) are losing out on an average of 1 hour of working time per employee per week due to poor connecting – costing them £18.77bn a year.

Loss of business revenue also has an impact on the British economy – an estimated loss of economic output (GVA) amounting to £7.7bn every year. The research found that professional services firms were the hardest hit and lost £5.3bn in revenue on average per year, accounting for an annual output loss of £2.8bn to the economy, while the retail sector lost £3.7bn in revenue per year because of poor technology, resulting in an annual loss of £560m in output to the British economy.

NOTE: For medium-sized businesses, the problem equates to 250 hours of lost working time per week.

The survey, which was conducted by YouGov and Development Economics, noted that “poor connectivity” translates to situations where staff cannot get online or complete work effectively. But annoyingly, the study doesn’t dig very deeply into the issue of why such connectivity is considered to be “poor” in the first place.

Since the focus seems to be on “work phones” (mobiles) and internet connectivity, then we assume the primary issue to be one of poor mobile broadband connectivity (signal reception). Signal coverage of the 4G and 5G services, as well as related network performance, will of course vary between different operators in different locations. As such, not even Three UK has a magic fix for all of those core issues.

Summary of Key Survey Results

➤ 71% of SMEs have been made more aware of areas where they need to reduce spending because of the cost of living crisis, with 32% believing they are paying too much for phone contracts and looking to cut costs.

➤ 29% of SMEs are worried they could lose employees due to not having good technology, rising to 48% amongst medium-sized businesses.

➤ 36% of SMEs believe they could perform better if they had “better mobile phone connectivity“.

➤ 20% of SMEs are concerned that not knowing how to use the latest mobile phone technology could allow their business to be left behind.

➤ 48% of SMEs state that the “technology industry” uses complex technical language that they don’t understand.

At this point it should go without saying that Three UK has a vested interest in the study, thus its results need to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, if poor mobile connectivity is a big problem, then it might be worth the business considering Dual-SIM phones across two networks (preferably phones that support lots of radio bands) – ideally after looking at some coverage maps of signal reception in the areas they work (i.e. picking the two most complementary operators).

The dynamic UK network coverage map from nPerf below, which is based off crowdsourced data from users of their app, might be one way to help pick the right operators. Admittedly, choosing a Dual-SIM approach does come with extra costs, so it’s often a question of whether that outweighs the impact from lost productivity.

Dynamic Mobile Coverage Map (nPerf)

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Michael says:

    The problem with nperf is that it’s purely crowd sourced. If there’s no coverage it’s cos it’s not been mapped.
    If someone asked for coverage in addition to the MNO’s maps I’ll point them to Rootmetrics/ SpeedTest maps.

    It makes sense to have 2 different networks. Especially those who may travel with work.
    Network outages are annoying but they happen.

  2. Jonny says:

    It’s good that Three believe poor connectivity is holding people back, but I can’t see any announcement of them committing to improving their network capacity. Must have been missed out when the press release was sent to people.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      During the earlier phases of 5G there were a bunch of releases about capacity upgrade (fibre etc.), which was also true of EE, Vodafone and O2.. as you’d expect. But such things are ongoing and often flexible, allowing for future increases.

    2. Michael says:

      I’ve seen their capacity improve quite a bit in last 2 years.
      With 5G expanding their 4G coverage is even better around South Wales. Mostly Cardiff where I travel.

    3. Ryan says:

      Three is a werid network capacity wise,at my house and around town you get 5G coverage decent speed, in my area it doesn’t seem they upgraded 4G capacity or coverage when they deploy 5G.

      In my area Three and EE got 5G, Three 5G is faster fastest I got was around 900Mbps near the Three 5G monopole where fastest I’ve seen on EE is around 300-400Mbps.

      Most user probably don’t have 5G device so will be using 4G, on EE 4G is always above 60 Mbps when I speed test it in my to town some areas like the retail park EE is over 250Mbps, Three on 4G you’re lucky to get anymore than a few Mbps.

  3. Mark says:

    Three doing a survey on poor connectivity? How ironic! Their network is the worst!

  4. Gary H says:

    Well this is hilarious “48% of SMEs state that the “technology industry” uses complex technical language that they don’t understand”

    So either 48% of SMEs don’t know how to use google or an online dictionary…Or they’re the ones the ASA get to do the surveys on ‘fibre broadband’

  5. James Brown says:

    So that means the ones that have poor connectivity must be using the Three network as they are by far the very worst company I have dealt with both signal wise and customer service wise!!!

  6. Elixier22 says:

    Three said that? This is coming from the network that congratulated me for being in a coma for 5 months told me it was fantastic and then that I make payment immediately. 3 had the slowest network combined with the worst customer service imaginable. How did three include any of this?

    1. James Brown says:

      If I was running an SME, Three would be the last place I would turn to boost my staff productivity.

  7. Jamie Powell says:

    The only thing bad for SME is 3 itself

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