Procurement · 28 July 2016

Broadband access remains key hurdle to rural micro business growth

One-in-five self-employed workers in Scotland and Wales cited problems growing their business due to insufficient broadband connections
Micro business owners in rural parts of the UK require urgent broadband action, according to freelancer association the IPSE.

Research published by the organisation has revealed that twice as many micro business owners and self-employed work in rural areas as in urban areas, with a majority still not having access to a superfast broadband connection.

With access to superfast internet increasingly considered vital to micro business growth, insufficient investment in broadband infrastructure could be costing the UK significant losses in productivity.

Responding to Ofcom’s recent ruling that Openreach the nationwide broadband provider owned by BT must legally separate from its parent company in the interests of efficiency, the IPSE has called on the communications regulator to set renewed targets to ensure Openreach steps up its level of investment to improve broadband.

IPSE policy and external affairs director Simon Vicker said that Ofcom should give Openreach a clear target of six months for initial improvements to be made, before the government should consider splitting up BT entirely.

increased investment in broadband is long overdue, he said. BT has so far been sluggish to act on improving broadband speeds across the UK, and urgent action is needed if the company is to retain control of the network.

Vicker welcomed the government’s recent proposal to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) that would give every home and business premises in the country the right to at least a 10Mbps broadband connection.

the government has taken a big step forward [proposing USO] and it now needs to ensure this is developed quickly and universally, with fibre optic broadband a requirement for all new house building projects, added Vicker.

The association found that as many as one-in-five self-employed workers in Scotland and Wales cited problems operating their business due to insufficient broadband. Vicker went on to say that enabling these businesses to run efficiently should be one of Britain’s top priorities.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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