Fast broadband ‘vital’ for Essex

THOUSANDS of small companies across Essex have been left “lagging behind” due to slow broadband connec-tion speeds, it has been claimed.

THOUSANDS of small companies across Essex have been left “lagging behind” due to slow broadband connection speeds, it has been claimed.

The Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hit out, saying many parts of the county, especially rural areas, do not have fast or reliable enough services to make them competitive in the market place.

The organisation has welcomed the Government’s appointment of a “broadband minister” and said basic speeds of connection should be an obligation, not a luxury.

Essex FSB’s chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “We know from our members that there are many parts of Essex where the quality, speed and reliability of broadband services is not satisfactory for use by businesses.

“The lack of broadband is unacceptable in the 21st Century. The UK is lagging behind and as a result small businesses – especially in rural areas – cannot develop their business online, which is vital for the growth of the UK’s economy.

“Essex FSB gave evidence to the Essex Rural Commission calling for investment in improved broadband.”

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He said there was concern about small firms being misled by their service providers who had been “promising broadband speeds that they are simply not delivering”.

“Broadband is not a luxury but an essential service.

“We welcome the creation of a Broadband Minister but he must act quickly and efficiently to ensure the universal service commitment for basic broadband speeds is an obligation if the country truly wants to become a global competitor.”

The federation’s new report – Broadband: Steps for an Incoming Government – says there is a need for fast and reliable broadband and urges Ed Vaizey, the newly-created Broadband Minister, to swiftly put measures in place to change it.

The federation claimed nearly a third of small firms were offered between two and four Mbps, but 94% said they felt their service providers’ offerings were failing their advertised claims.

The FSB has claimed having super-fast broadband across the country could create 60,000 jobs and add �18billion to UK GDP.