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16 October 2019

New figures show more Scottish smaller firms dissatisfied with broadband

Reference number: SM1610

Ministers in Edinburgh and London need to “bury the hatchet” about broadband and start working together, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).  The call comes as FSB research reveals that a greater proportion of businesses north of the border are dissatisfied with their broadband service compared to the UK as a whole. 

New FSB survey work reveals that 38 per cent of Scottish businesses say that their broadband speeds are insufficient for their current business needs, compared to 33 per cent of businesses across the UK. 

In addition, almost half of Scottish firms (47%) don’t believe their broadband will be good enough for their future needs, compared to two in five (40%) across the UK.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Smaller firms in Scotland are less satisfied about their broadband connection than the average UK business. Though official figures showing Scotland’s connectivity improving, civil servants, politicians and the telecoms industry needs to make sure that the service lives up to expectations.”

In a new report, called Lost Connection, FSB urges the Scottish Government and UK Government to develop a memorandum of understanding regarding the development and deployment of digital infrastructure interventions.

Andrew McRae said: “Most people in Scotland care more about the speed and reliability of their telecoms service, than whether industry, the Scottish Government, or the UK Government facilitated the connection.

“That why we’re urging Ministers in Edinburgh and London to bury the hatchet on broadband and mobile. Local businesses, like many citizens, get frustrated when politicians point the finger rather than work together, that’s why we’re suggesting a new telecoms agreement to put aside historic disputes.”

The small business campaign group also urges the Scottish Government to publish a revised timetable for the completion of their universal superfast programme as soon as possible. Their call comes after Ministers revealed last week that BT is likely to complete a significant share of the programme north of the border, but contracts will not be signed until later in the year. 

Andrew McRae said: “The Scottish Government has the right ambition – delivering universal superfast broadband will help build the capacity of firms and the economic strength of local communities. But firms need a solid timetable setting out when their enhanced connectivity will be delivered, as they need to make decisions now about whether their current premises meet their business needs. Ministers must provide this detail by the end of this year.”

FSB’s report also urges the UK Government to take action on mobile phone coverage. Official Ofcom figures show that availability of 4G mobile services in Scotland remains poor, with only 41 per cent of the country’s geographic area receiving 4G coverage from all network operators.

Andrew McRae said: “Scotland has been relatively poorly served by the mobile phone market. As UK Ministers make decisions about how this industry should serve communities in the future, they must make sure Scotland isn’t left behind.”