Why we need businesses to champion high speed broadband

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Paul Miles Rogers of the Federation of Small Businesses explains why broadband is vital to help small businesses grow.

With an estimated 45,000 firms still on dial-up, and many more struggling with speeds lower than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps), it is clear that while the residential market may be seeing the benefits of high speed broadband, this is often not the case for the business community.

Almost every (94%) small firm viewed a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business. The current 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. For example, even in the borough of Rugby where households have high speed broadband, some businesses still struggle to send digital invoices, upload large files or even communicate with clients via the internet.

In some parts of Warwickshire, predominantly in rural areas, coverage is either very poor or non-existent. In a world where business is increasingly conducted online, small firms located in these areas are therefore at a competitive disadvantage.

In our region the CSW Broadband project being led by Warwickshire County Council is working to roll out superfast broadband, however their data shows that commercial and business areas are less likely to be included in the commercial broadband rollout than residential areas. They are therefore looking for Business Champions who may be based on a particular industrial park or in a town centre, or may be part of a network representing a particular industry. The Champions would help them to gather information about the specific issues faced by businesses by encouraging them to complete their business survey www.surveymonkey.com/s/businessq

The FSB urges all local business to complete the survey so that we can show there is a need for the roll-out of broadband to the business community. It only takes a few minutes and could make the difference to your business being able to meet customer and market demands of the future.

l Whether you are an online shopper or a business wanting to connect with your local customers, I highlighted in my article last month, Small Business Saturday; the campaign to encourage consumers to shop local and support small businesses in their community. The campaign highlights the five million UK small businesses, who contribute so much to the economy. The day is the first shopping Saturday in December. As a prelude, Rugby FSB Branch is dedicating its regular breakfast to support the campaign along with our own Keep Trade Local initiative.

If you are a shopper, a business person or a shop owner, would you like to visit our Expo for a breakfast on Friday November 28 at The Morgan Centre, Rugby College? This event will showcase the regions businesses, so join us from 7-10am. Book online through Eventbrite (search ‘FSB Rugby’) or at www.fsbrugbyktlbreakfast.eventbrite.co.uk/
If you want to exhibit use the same web link or contact me.