Tuesday, July 15, 2014

News: South Yorkshire broadband project isn't up to speed

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A £20m project to bring 95% superfast broadband coverage in South Yorkshire by 2017 is unlikely to meet the future demands of business, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

As partners in South Yorkshire progress plans to meet government targets for accessing superfast broadband, the FSB is raising the issue that businesses should be at the front and centre of future rollout plans, so that they can enjoy the benefits too.

The FSB, the UK's largest business organisation representing around 200,000 small businesses, estimates that 45,000 firms still on dial up, and many more struggling with speeds lower than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The FSB's latest report highlights the importance of broadband to business, calling it the "4th Utility." It found that 94% of small firms view a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business and that the Government targets of 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population and 2Mbps for the remaining five per cent will not meet the future demands of UK businesses.

Instead calls are being made for the Government, in cooperation with industry, to commit to delivering minimum speeds of 10 Mbps for all business premises in the UK by 2018–19, regardless of location. This compares with the current target of delivering 2Mpbs for the hardest to reach five per cent by 2017. Alongside this, the Government should set a medium to long-term objective of providing minimum speeds of 100 Mbps to all premises by 2030.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: "While progress has been made with the residential market, businesses have not enjoyed the same benefits, which is holding back their growth. We therefore want to see the UK Government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre. Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.

"As this report shows, too many of our small firms are held back by the current state of the broadband market in the UK. We want Government to oversee the creation of world-beating digital infrastructure that will enable businesses to grow, innovate and compete in international markets. This means not only raising download speeds but also upload speeds that are so important and where provision is especially inadequate.  Otherwise firms' growth ambitions will be blunted, while Government efforts to get every firm to go "digital by default" when filing its taxes online will be impossible to achieve."

Rothbiz revealed last week that progress is being made on a £20m project to deliver fibre broadband to areas in South Yorkshire where it is acknowledged that the market is unlikely to deliver Superfast broadband and will likely remain so until 2017.

FSB website

Images: Digital Region

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