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EEF: Businesses are paying inflated broadband costs

The Engineering Employers Federation claims that the UK could miss out on the fourth industrial revolution if the government continues to ignore business broadband

British businesses are paying inflated prices for inadequate broadband, according to a new survey by the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF). 

The report, which canvassed 128 companies between December 1 and December 31, found that a half of all mid-sized firms were paying over £5,000 a year for their internet access. To add insult to injury, nearly half of companies based in business parks were unable to access speeds above 10Mbps.

As the Industrial Internet of Things begins to gather pace, the manufacturing champion warned that without affordable and high-quality access, Britain ran the risking of falling behind in the "fourth industrial revolution".

Two-thirds of manufacturers surveyed said that they planned to invest in IoT related infrastructure and services.

“Manufacturers need best in class provision if Britain is to take advantage of the next industrial revolution and government cannot afford to think it is job done,” said Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist. “While the quality of networks isn’t currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years’ down the line.”

The EEF said that the government had placed too strong an emphasis on improving home broadband services and called for a review of the business broadband marketplace, with the aim of driving prices down by the end of the current parliament.

“To date, most of the focus has been on future household internet access despite the economic returns from better internet connectivity being higher if businesses are prioritised,” she said. “The Government should urgently reverse this trend and come forward with concrete steps to ensure the UK has a modern business environment that enables us to outperform in the digital race.”

Last month, the British Chambers of Commerce sent a letter to John Whittingdale, the Culture, Media and Sport secretary, calling for similar action. The letter, which was signed by every accredited Chamber of Commerce in the UK, demanded improved digital and mobile connectivity for UK businesses.

“We need action from ministers, regulators, service providers and businesses themselves if we want to stay competitive in future,” said John Longworth, Director General of the BCC.

Duncan Gooding, director of major accounts for TalkTalk Business said that the EEF report highlighted a ‘real and urgent problem’ for UK organisations.

“Connectivity is the lifeblood of British business and companies are in dire need of robust, resilient and affordable infrastructure to handle ever-increasing amounts of data, if they are to survive in today’s market and embrace opportunities for growth,” Gooding said. “At TalkTalk Business, we are calling for connectivity to be put at the forefront of not only businesses, but the government’s priorities. By acting now and investing in fast, reliable and secure infrastructure, we will be able to support the developing digital economy.”

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