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By Daniel Hunter
A new report of 1500 UK small businesses reveals that 57% say that the poor quality of their internet access adversely affects their ability to run their businesses effectively.
The survey released by Freelancer.co.uk, the world’s largest online outsourcing marketplace, puts small businesses at odds with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who reiterated in a speech at the Google Campus building that broadband speed is more important than coverage.
Yet the small business survey found that 65% of UK small businesses believe that there is still a rural urban Internet divide, with many businesses in rural areas unable to take advantage of new business opportunities the Internet brings.
The survey found that 65% of small businesses are worried that if the Government continues to put speed over coverage many businesses in rural areas will suffer. They believe that the government isn’t interested in bridging this gap.
The survey showed that businesses in urban areas, such as the South East were just as worried as businesses in rural areas about the lack of consistent coverage across the country.
This survey comes as the internet and ecommerce is playing an ever important role in regenerating the economy, contributing more than £34.9 billion in the first six months of the year, according to IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales index. Yet businesses in rural areas are unable to take advantage of this growth.
According to Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.co.uk, it is crucial that Internet coverage is consistent across the whole of the UK to support business development.
“Reliable and robust Internet access is essential for all UK businesses to take advantage of new business opportunities the Internet provides," he said.
“It is isn’t just e-commerce, but businesses are now relying on cloud technology as well as carrying out important business communications. It shouldn’t be easier for someone in London to have a business Skype call with someone in Pakistan than with someone in Halesworth in Suffolk(2),” he said.
“UK business are using sites like Freelancer.co.uk to carry out business across the world, undertaking data research, marketing, programming and rebranding. We have seen 300% growth but this is in urban areas. Rural businesses just aren’t being allowed to take advantage of the growing business opportunities that should be just a mouse click away.”
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