By Daniel Hunter
New polling of business leaders reveals the damage done by patchy broadband and mobile internet service in the UK, and highlights the economic benefits of improving internet connectivity.
The poll, of 1,147 members of the Institute of Directors, explores business satisfaction with fixed-line and mobile internet services, and the urban/rural divide in connectivity.
- 57% of IoD members are satisfied with fixed-line download speeds for the business, and 50% with fixed-line upload speeds
-25% of IoD members are satisfied with mobile internet download speeds, compared to 45% who are dissatisfied
Satisfaction rates are significantly lower for IoD members doing business in rural areas:
- Only 34% of members in rural areas are satisfied with the speed of their fixed-line downloads, while 45% are dissatisfied
- A mere 13% of rural business leaders are satisfied with mobile download speeds, while 60% are dissatisfied
- 21% of IoD members in rural areas are satisfied with the reliability of their mobile internet service, compared to 46% who are dissatisfied
Economic benefits of faster internet speeds
The polling clearly shows the economic benefits brought by faster internet connections. Significantly increasing internet speeds would:
- Improve the productivity of 83% of IoD members
- Encourage 56% to offer more flexible working opportunities
- Encourage 31% to invest more in their business
- Encourage 13% to hire more staff
Openreach, the BT-owned company which oversees the wires connecting homes and businesses to the local telephone exchange, registered low service satisfaction levels among IoD members:
- Overall, 32% of IoD members who have dealt with Openreach were satisfied with the service — while 42% were dissatisfied
- In rural areas, only 23% of those who have dealt with Openreach were satisfied, compared to 46% who were dissatisfied
“Fast, reliable internet connections are essential to a modern business — but far too often our existing infrastructure falls short," Corin Taylor, Senior Economic Adviser to the Institute of Directors, said.
"Increasing internet speeds would encourage many employers to invest in expanding their businesses and taking on more staff, giving the economy a welcome boost.
"The digital age is about flexibility and efficiency, but rural businesses in particular are missing out on those advantages because the landline and mobile networks simply aren’t up to scratch in large parts of the countryside. There is a lot of work to be done before the service provided in the real world matches up to the rhetoric coming from Westminster and Whitehall.”
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