The Engineering Employers Federation said firms were ‘fearful poor digital connectivity may prove a drag on future growth’
Slow broadband is threatening the economic recovery, manufacturers warn today.
A survey by the Engineering Employers Federation found that nearly half of companies in business parks were unable to access speeds above 10Mega Bits per second.
The federation warned that the poor state of digital infrastructure was threatening Britain’s ability to take advantage of the “fourth industrial revolution”.
It warned that many manufacturers were “fearful poor digital connectivity may prove a drag on future growth”.
A survey found that while two thirds reported their connectivity was acceptable, more than half of companies “say connectivity [is] not adequate for future needs”.
Half of companies said connection costs have gone up in the past two years.
Lee Hopley, the federation’s chief economist, said: “While the quality of networks isn’t 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 federation urged the Government to prioritise internet access for businesses, complaining that currently it is too focused on households.
Chi Onwurah MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: “Ministers have utterly failed to foster a competitive broadband market or oversee the rollout of future-proof broadband for businesses.”
Ofcom, the industry’s regulator, has already said it is concerned about a mismatch between broadband speeds that small firms believed they are buying and the actual service delivered.
Ofcom has warned that one in four small firms – around 290,000 companies – has poor broadband because they are based on industrial parks with no residential addresses so companies are reluctant to connect them.
A new Ofcom voluntary code will now commit broadband suppliers like BT TalTalk and Virgin to allow customers to exit the contract at any point if speeds fall below a minimum guarantee level.
Last month businesses employing 4.5million people have told Government they can “no longer remain silent” about how companies’ performance is being “severely affected” from poor broadband.
The company owners made known their frustrations about broadband in a letter to John Whittingdale, the Culture, Media and Sport secretary, signed by 52 Chambers of Commerce, representing 75,000 companies employing 4.5million employees.
The Engineering Employers Federation surveyed 128 companies between December 1 and December 31.
A Government spokesman said: “We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.
“More than 55,000 small business across the UK have taken up our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme to help towards connection costs and many are already seeing significant boosts to their business.”
This article was written by Christopher Hope Chief Political Correspondent from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.