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UK government’s call for evidence on business broadband closes June 2016

The UK government’s call for evidence on broadband for small to medium-sized enterprises is due to close, with the review aiming to drive down the cost of high-quality broadband for smaller businesses

The government’s review of the business broadband market and leased lines is reaching a milestone, with its call for evidence closing on 3 June 2016.

Although the government said there has been significant progress in the roll out of superfast broadband, it stated in the evidence paper Review of Business Broadband: “We are taking seriously the concerns raised about the access that businesses – particularly SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises] – have to affordable, high-speed broadband.”

The call for evidence quoted findings from Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), the manufacturer’s organisation. A recent EEF survey found 27% of firms felt their connectivity needs were not being met.

The survey also found half of the 128 businesses surveyed were unable to access speeds above 10 Mbps, excluding those using leased lines.

Speaking at the EEF conference in February 2016, where the survey findings were announced, business secretary Sajid Javid said: “As a one-nation government, I want every business – regardless of size or location – to benefit from access to the fast, reliable connectivity they need to thrive.”

In the Review of Business Broadband report, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills stated: “In an increasingly digital world, broadband has the power to transform the way businesses reach their target markets and interact with their consumers over time.

“It is therefore vital that the UK is able to keep pace with that technological change on a national and local level to support SME growth and harness that potential.”

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The EEF found a quarter of small firms and half of medium-sized firms pay more than £5,000 a year for broadband connectivity, and the Department for Business Innovations and Skills said it is taking the discovery seriously.

As Computer Weekly previously reported, the review will look specifically at improving access to affordable and high-quality fibre broadband for businesses and how to “encourage choice and competition” to drive down prices.

During his speech at the EEF event in February, Javid spoke about the government’s intentions to understand the dynamics of the business broadband market.

“We will look at the barriers that exist for businesses to get the affordable, high-speed broadband they need. We will look at the whole issue of leased lines and the role they play in the market.”

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