Meetings provider PowWowNow has today sent a letter to the Government demanding full-fibre broadband for the nation to prevent poor connectivity from disproportionately impacting SMEs’ recovery post-Covid.
The letter, which is signed by a further 14 SME signatories spanning a range of sectors including tech, property, retail and law, calls on the UK Government to commit to ensuring 100% of the nation has accessibility to full-fibre ultrafast broadband as part of its forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy. The letter is part of PowWowNow’s Connecting the UK campaign which aims to support the transition to remote working in the UK due to the impact of the pandemic.
The signatories argue that internet connectivity is a critical utility to almost every sector and industry, with research finding 60% of SMEs based in the capital value “high broadband speed and quality” as more critical to their business operations than a fully functioning supply chain.
They claim the UK’s copper-based network leaves millions at risk of slower connections that are less reliable and have a greater likelihood of network dropout. These inadequacies will disproportionately impact SMEs, the driving force of our economy, with over a third unable to fully transition their business to an online model.
The letter outlines grave concerns that the lack of provision of FTTP broadband across the UK could disproportionately prevent SMEs from thriving post-Covid.
To rectify this issue, the letter calls for tangible commitment from the Government to invest in and improve the nation’s broadband network, so to prevent rural areas and ‘not spots’ from being forgotten. It asks the Government to provide funding for infrastructural improvements in areas where a commercial case cannot be found.
The signatories say that such action will give a digital lifeline for some of the most disproportionately impacted communities, but will also enable SMEs to play a vital role in delivering the Government’s levelling up agenda.
Andrew Johnson, Managing Director of PowWowNow, said, “The pandemic has accelerated a complete transformation in the way the majority of us work, with flexible and remote working set to become the norm even post-Covid.
“As such, businesses will need to adapt, and it will be crucial that UK SMEs have the connectivity they need to remain productive. We are therefore asking the Government to help SMEs, who are the life blood of the economy, by investing in the future of our internet infrastructure.”
Theodora Paraskevaides, founder of retailer Beaumont Music, added: “I work from home in a rural area of Sussex with a download of less than 2MB almost non-existent upload. I have recently been through Ofcom’s USO scheme to be told we have to use 4G instead and we’re not eligible for fibre in the area. I have since purchased a 4G kit which is temperamental to say the least. Very frustrated and disappointed, the USO scheme felt token and most BT teams we spoke to hadn’t even heard of it.”