PRESS RELEASE

RESEARCH REVEALS SMALL BUSINESSES SHIFTING TO DIGITAL YET CONFUSED BY BROADBAND

More than a third of decision makers in SMEs don't know how fast their internet connection is, while more than 7 in 10 don't know how much data they use every month

  • Yet virtually all expect their business to stay the same or become more digital over the next five years
  • More than half of those surveyed have experienced problems from slow broadband speeds with their current provider
  • Ready to connect: small businesses simply sign up to ‘cablemystreet’ to ask for Virgin Media’s ultrafast speeds in their area

Virgin Media Business, the arm of Virgin Media that provides products and services to UK businesses, today reveals new online research finding that the nation’s small and medium sized businesses are in the dark when it comes to their internet requirements. More than a third of senior decision makers in SMEs with broadband (37%) are unaware of the maximum speed of their connection and more than seven out of 10 respondents (72%) don’t know how much data they use every month.

The lack of understanding around their internet use leaves SMEs at odds with expectations for the nature of business in the coming years. When asked about whether they expect to use more digital technologies (such as a greater online presence, social media channels, online ordering or online customer service) over the next five years, the vast majority of those surveyed (92%) said they expect to either stay the same or become more digital. Two thirds (65%) of respondents expect to become more digital by 2020.

Today, over half (53%) of small business decision makers surveyed have experienced issues with slow broadband speeds which have hindered employees from doing their job. This reinforces Ofcom’s recent Broadband services for SMEs report, which highlighted a lack of widespread superfast broadband availability and high levels of dissatisfaction with quality of service.

Virgin Media is currently embarking on “Project Lightning”, the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband digital infrastructure for more than a decade. Over the next five years, this major expansion of ultrafast connectivity will bring four million premises speeds of up to 152Mb, at least twice as fast as the fastest speeds available from BT, TalkTalk and Sky. The roll-out will be based on demand from businesses, consumers and communities which register their interest at virginmedia.com/cablemystreet.  Just under half (49%) of small firms polled in the survey said they would be interested in working together with other local businesses to ask for faster speeds.

Peter Kelly, MD, Virgin Media Business, said: “Reliable, high-speed internet can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving for the UK’s five million small and medium sized businesses. As more and more of daily life shifts online, their need for fast connections will grow – but those frustrated with their current provider need not suffer in silence. By signing up at virginmediabusiness.co.uk/cablemybusiness they can make sure that they can access the fastest speeds available and future-proof their businesses for the challenges ahead.”

John Allan, National Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “These findings echo our own research which suggests 72% of small businesses expect to increase their use of digital services over the next five years – yet many still struggle with slow and unreliable broadband connections. Too often superfast broadband speeds are not available to the small businesses that need them. Clearly small businesses are facing challenges in their bid to understand and embrace digital opportunities. We therefore welcome Virgin Media’s new investment into the UK’s broadband infrastructure which will empower small businesses to realise their ambitions and increase their productivity.”     

“High speed internet is the lifeblood of my business – I literally couldn’t do my job without it and would lose customers if it let me down. There’s clearly a huge digital opportunity for business across all sectors, so I’d expect even more businesses to be as obsessed with the speed of their connection as I am. Since I’ve had the fastest broadband in the UK, I’ve been able to see dramatic improvements in productivity and we've managed to secure huge clients on the back of it, so I’d definitely encourage other businesses to register their interest in ultrafast broadband at .”

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About Virgin Media

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together we serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.

We support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and a complete digital platform packed with next-generation products, applications and services.

With our £3bn Project Lightning programme we aim to reach 17 million premises by 2019, including the UK’s most under-served areas.