Skip To The Main Content
15 December 2017

Half a million businesses left behind without access to superfast broadband - FSB NI

Too many small businesses continue to be held back by poor broadband coverage and slow speeds, according to the latest figures from Ofcom.

The annual Connected Nations report shows around 230,000 small firms across the UK still cannot access decent broadband (10Mbps), with around 500,000 unable to access superfast broadband. The problem is especially serious in rural communities and in business parks, where 65,000 small businesses cannot access a decent connection of 10Mbps.

The proportion of small businesses in Northern Ireland that cannot access superfast broadband is higher than in any other part of the United Kingdom.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) continues to call on Government to make a decision to either deliver the Universal Service Obligation (USO) so that all small businesses are connected to a basic level of broadband without delay or take up BT’s offer to expand its services.                                        .

Wilfred Mitchell, FSB NI Policy Chair, said: “Poor broadband coverage and slow speeds continue to blight small businesses across the UK, particularly in rural areas where coverage is typically poorest.

“While it’s good to see superfast coverage has continued to improve, half a million businesses still don’t have access to superfast broadband. The rate of improvement doesn’t appear fast enough to make inroads into the UK’s productivity problems.

“The problem is particularly pronounced in Northern Ireland, where a quarter of small businesses cannot access superfast coverage and 12 percent cannot access a decent connection of 10Mbps. In this regard, Northern Ireland performs worse than any other part of the United Kingdom.

“Businesses want to embrace digital technology to compete and enhance their productivity, but to do this they need a decent connection and good quality service.

“Two years on from the promise of the USO, still no decision has been made about how to deliver this. Government needs to step up and make a decision without delay about whether to proceed with the regulatory approach or take up BT’s offer to expand its services.                                       

“It’s essential that small businesses do not continue to be left behind due to poor broadband.”