Getting connected – it’s easy, right?Sarah Langmaid
I am a bit of an information and data nerd. I want to know the stats, facts and figures. Why do we do what we do? Who are we helping? Can we clarify that? Andy and Martin are the big picture guys, the creators and innovators. I like to drill down and find evidence to support what we we say we are doing and why. I know that passion comes first, but evidence to back up the reason for the passion comes a close second to me.
With this in mind, I started on a journey to look at the current state of connectivity in the UK, with SMEs in mind. We are a small business. We rely heavily on the internet and good connectivity to enable us to work efficiently. Without it things start to go horribly wrong. Time stops and with that so does our productivity. There is nothing that irks me more than not being productive. I have a window of time when my daughter is at school to get things done. Tick jobs off my list and feel like I have achieved. I need to be 100% productive in those hours. When connectivity stops, or is interrupted, my jobs list can start to feel like it is getting out of control. For a small business time most definitely is money.
The Federation of Small Businesses was my first port of call. They report that in 2016 there were 5.5 million private sector business and 99.9% of these were small or medium-sized businesses (SMEs). That fact blew my mind. 5,494,500 of all private sector business in the UK are classed as SMEs. My next questions was: how many of these SMEs struggle to get a decent internet connection?
The Gov.uk connectivity policy paper was an interesting source of material. According to their research, 8% of small businesses, mainly in rural locations, do not have access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps or above. That equates to 439,560 SMEs in the United Kingdom.
So what does this mean in practical terms? It’s fine if you are single user sending emails and searching the web, but what if you are a graphics heavy user? A photographer, graphic designer or tech company? A lack of decent broadband access reduces productivity, stifles innovation and restricts the ability to grow and compete in global markets. If you interact heavily with internet based services then you can feel like you are struggling against inertia.
What about cost? A survey undertaken by the Manufacturer’s Organisation, EEF, confirmed that over a quarter of small firms and half of medium-sized firms are paying more than £5,000 a year for broadband connectivity. That’s over £400 a month. Not a small sum.
There are lots of conclusions to draw from this. If you are an SME there is a likelihood that you can’t get a ‘decent’ internet connection. If you are lucky enough to get one, you have to pay through the nose for it.
This is the ‘why’ I was looking for. We solve connectivity challenges. We do things right or not at all. We want other small businesses to not only think big, but act big; small businesses have the right to be productive, innovative and grow, why shouldn’t we compete in the global marketplace? SMEs in the UK have earned that right; the combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion in 2016. SMEs are amazing; our combined annual turnover is 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK. We deserve to aim high and break through the barriers. We deserve better broadband.
If you have got poor connectivity or you are one of those paying vast sums of money for improved speeds, why not get in touch today; challenge us to increase your bandwidth and reduce your costs.