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20 December 2017

USO decision must help small firms compete in digital economy - FSB NI

Responding to the Government’s decision to roll out a regulatory approach to delivering broadband, Wilfred Mitchell, NI Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “It is good to see the Government has now made a decision about delivering a basic level of broadband to all households and businesses across the UK.

“There are still far too many small businesses being held back due to slow speeds and poor coverage. Good access to broadband is vital for small firms to be able to grow, reach new customers and be more productive. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) must help these businesses compete in the digital economy.

“This year’s Ofcom Connected Nations Report demonstrated that a quarter of small businesses in Northern Ireland cannot access superfast coverage and 12 percent cannot access a decent connection of 10Mbps, which is the minimum standard set by the USO.

“It’s encouraging to see that this important next step in delivering the regulatory USO has now been taken, but there’s still a way to go to ensure everyone in the UK has access to speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020. Many businesses have waited a very long time for access to decent broadband.

“Given that delivering broadband roll out is the responsibility of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, we would sincerely hope that the continued absence of an Executive does not prevent small businesses from accessing a broadband connection which they require to run their business.

“It's vital progress is made without further delay.”