Light Reading

Small UK Firms Left Stranded by ISPs – Report

Ray Le Maistre

Small businesses across the UK are lacking decent and affordable broadband services, and are thus being disadvantaged by the communications service provider community, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB claims that some rural areas in the UK lack any decent broadband service at all, and even in urban areas business users "can experience poor coverage too, and even where broadband is available the range and quality of services often fall short of what businesses require."

The report adds: "Tailored business packages offering symmetrical upload and download speeds are often prohibitively expensive, while business parks and premises have been overlooked in the roll-out of local fibre networks to residential areas. If the full potential of small business is to be harnessed and the economic benefits of broadband connectivity realised, this must change."

There are 4.5 million small businesses in the UK, according to the FSB, so that's a lot of potential customers with which national and local service providers could generate revenues, whether from simple connectivity or advanced unified and integrated communications services packages.

And the report's findings show that the UK's small businesses are increasingly reliant on broadband connectivity to fulfill their strategies: 94% "consider a reliable Internet connection critical to the success of their business," and as many as 14% "consider lack of reliable and fast broadband connectivity to be their main barrier to growth."

And here's a shocking statistic: While 12% of the UK's small businesses have a fiber broadband connection, 1%, or 45,000 small businesses, still connect to the Internet via a dial-up (yes -- dial-up!) link, according to the FSB. In total, 65% of British small businesses access broadband through a wired connection, while the remainder rely on mobile connectivity.

Satisfaction levels are not great: About 25% of small businesses are fairly or very dissatisfied, while only 15% are very satisfied with their broadband provision.

That's not very positive feedback for the 100 or so fixed broadband service providers in the UK -- led by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) (30% market share), Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) (21%), Sky (NYSE, London: SKY) (19%), and TalkTalk (17%) -- and the major mobile operators that are rolling out 4G LTE services -- EE , Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), 3 , and Vodafone UK .

Not surprisingly, the FSB wants a big shake-up of the British broadband market, including higher levels of state funding, a guarantee of a minimum 10 Mbit/s to all businesses by 2018/2019 (compared with the current commitment of 2 Mbit/s), reform of broadband market regulations, and a prioritization of fiber connectivity to business parks.

The FSB has found at least one sympathetic ear in the service provider community -- Greg Mesch, CEO of alternative UK broadband network operator CityFibre , which is using funds raised from an IPO earlier this year to build out fiber access infrastructure in a number of Tier 2 cities around the UK, such as Coventry, Peterborough, and York. (See CityFibre Raises £16.5M From IPO.)

"Around the country, businesses are struggling to grow and compete, suffocated by a lack of bandwidth. Even those companies based in newly built business parks can often find themselves only able to access broadband speeds that would have residential customers on the phone to technical support," noted Mesch in a statement emailed to Light Reading. "Without access to pure fibre networks, fit for the 21st century, the UK's small businesses will be restricted from accessing a new generation of online and cloud services that offer the functionality and flexibility to help them grow. The technology and expertise is available today that allows for a quick, hassle free transformation to Gigabit Internet speeds," he added, without mentioning main rival BT or promising to meet the price demands of small businesses.

For the full 52-page FSB report, click on this link.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Blogger
7/14/2014 | 2:52:58 PM
Is there money in it?
The big question, as always, is whether the service providers can make money from the small business sector.

In the past, maybe not. But with online customer care, cloud services, unified comms and wireless broadband....


Time to Get Smart About SMB Services

From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.