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Survey Claims 1 in Every 5 Businesses Receive Insufficient Internet Speeds

Tuesday, Nov 28th, 2023 (3:21 pm) - Score 800
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A new survey of business leaders and decision-makers from 160 UK companies, which was conducted by Neos Networks during June 2023, has claimed that one in every five UK businesses are receiving insufficient broadband speeds. Plus 42% regard moving to higher capacity connectivity in the next 2 years as key to growth plans.

In terms of those that have invested over the last 24 months, some 11.2% of respondents stated that investing in connectivity had a direct impact on their business profitability. Plus, 98.3% of businesses said they saw indirect impacts too, such as in terms of productivity, staff retention or client collaboration.

Some of the top reasons businesses are prioritising higher capacity connectivity are increased computer power (22.4%), operational development – meaning more data and higher capacity requirements (21.2%), and greater device usage for each employee (11.6%). One in ten businesses are also actively looking to increase their connectivity to better integrate AI into their processes.

Interestingly, some 55.6% of respondents said they risked losing a client or customer as a consequence of poor internet connectivity, speed or reliability. Finally, respondents were asked if their business had felt a notable impact from the government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout, but “just” 52.5% said yes.

The above figure is actually quite high, given that Project Gigabit didn’t even start to award contracts until August 2022, which leads us to suspect that respondents may be including improvements via the Gigabit Voucher and GigaHubs (Dark Fibre) schemes too, or confusing them with commercial upgrades.

Simon Willmott, Director of Neos’ Wholesale Business Development, said:

“The business appetite for high-capacity connectivity is clear, and this provides a great opportunity for AltNet providers. As businesses strive to keep pace with technology, companies in underserved rural and competitive urban areas will naturally require greater network capacity.

While the UK government has backed network investment with Project Gigabit, they must now go further in making connectivity expansion commercially viable – with grant incentives, access rights and wayleaves. Supporting AltNets to unlock the next stage of network expansion in this way can only be positive for UK business, and solidify the UK’s position as world leaders in the digital economy.”

Naturally it goes without saying that Neos Networks has a vested interest in the results and thus such surveys should be taken with a pinch of salt. Similarly, it could be argued that the results suggest the majority of businesses may in fact be receiving sufficient broadband speeds, which is a more positive interpretation.

The latest data from Thinkbroadband suggests that around 79% of UK premises are now covered by a gigabit-capable broadband connection, which leaves 21% left to be reached. The government are targeting nationwide coverage for 2030, but clearly network operators would be happy if more support was provided to help them connect poorly served firms at a faster rate.

Jeremy Chelot, CEO of Netomnia, says:

“The digital-first approach of many UK businesses is increasing the demand, but a full fibre network can cope with it for many years to come. Netomnia’s strategy to support rural deployment is to extend our network out from urban centres to surrounding rural areas. The risk is too great to do it any other way. Financial savvy and long-term stability among network providers are the most important things to maintain a high level of competition to support rural areas.”

Tom Brook, Head of IT at Broadband for Surrey Hills (B4SH), added:

“The presence of any AltNet for a rural business is instantly going to improve their internet speeds and increase productivity. And where multiple full fibre services exist in an area, AltNets can provide higher upload speeds in comparison to the major national provider.

“AltNets have an excellent opportunity to provide services far sooner and in better consultation with those in the hardest-to-reach locations. AltNets may also be able to provide the next generation of speeds earlier than the national telecoms provider. We already see some providers offering 2.5, 3 and 10 gigabit services across their network, where the national provider is only just starting trials.”

However, it’s worth pointing out that the headline figure of 1 in 5 five UK businesses receiving insufficient broadband speeds is reflecting current connectivity, which may be overlooking the potential availability of faster pre-existing networks (i.e. the survey didn’t check to see if respondents had access to faster connectivity options than they currently use).

Finally, it is worth remembering that demands vary by business. For example, a fish and chip shop can live with a slower link, but a modern graphic design or video editing firm may need a lot more speed. Bigger businesses may also be able to take a leased line, which are a lot cheaper today than they once were. Some smaller businesses might similarly find a solution in alternative methods, such as Starlink.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
8 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam P says:

    My Fathers IT business only gets 40mbps when residents across the street get 1gbps

  2. Avatar photo Fred says:

    Is there a link to the actual survey anywhere?

    1. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      I was sent an invite by e-mail as Neos provide my line. I also have Starlink as a backup incase which I can activate within minutes. Every business should have one.

  3. Avatar photo Jason says:

    Most businesses dont know what speed they get . They often get tap’d up by some useless IT company that sells them a load of rubbish with inadequate services

  4. Avatar photo N says:

    The company I work for were stuck with a rather poor (by modern standards) Openreach line giving ~35Mbps on a good day.
    Incidentally, Neos have a Gigabit network in the building but the ‘cheapest’ their provider could offer was 50Mbps for an eyewatering 10x the price!

    So yes, some businesses may well be on inadequate connections with others technically available but certainly not in the affordable price range, especially for smaller businesses.

    We now use a 4G connection offering ~100Mbps for nearly half the amount we were paying for the Openreach line!

  5. Avatar photo The facts says:

    160 is a low number to get useful results.

    1. Avatar photo Garyh says:

      Nah, just take a small sample in a specific area and multiply it up to cover the entire country, gets you ‘useful results’ for a headline. 🙂

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