5G networks may be taking the headlines at the moment; but at the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are being left behind. So much so that a report by the National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses (FSB) reveals that 45% of small businesses don’t have a reliable mobile signal, with this figure rising to 57% in rural areas.
If that’s not bad enough, many small businesses also suffer from poor broadband speeds with 30% seeing download speeds of less than 10Mbps. Here again those in rural areas fare worse with 39% receiving low connection speeds.
Why is this important? Well not only does the countrywide discrepancy in coverage create an unequal playing field, in some instances it can also prevent businesses from operating in an optimum way. As the FSB survey reveals, poor broadband or internet connectivity for small businesses means that:
- 32% are prevented from contacting, or being contacted by, their customers
- 31% see low connectivity as a barrier to growth
- 26% have lost business or sales
Not only that, poor connectivity can mean that calls are frequently cut off, or suffer from low noise or crackling on the line; none of which help when businesses are trying to have a constructive discussion with customers. Businesses with poor connectivity are also potentially missing out on the benefits of making phone calls over the internet. As the FSB report says: “Comprehensive broadband and mobile connectivity would enable small businesses to carry out their everyday business with full confidence.”
For those with good broadband connectivity VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) can be a cost effective way of communicating over the internet with customers and others both in the UK and abroad. For a start VoIP to VoIP calls over the same network are free of call charges. In other words, by connecting multiple sites under a single VoIP system, calls between business premises, home or external workers, suppliers and customers won’t be subject to call charges.
VoIP calls made to VoIP ports on other networks are also generally cheaper than landline calls. Even VoIP calls to landlines can prove to be cost effective, particularly as they potentially save on the need to pay for line rental. Add in other features such as call recording and call transfer and it is easy to see how reliable broadband can made a difference to business connectivity and costs. And with a package such as the Callagenix VoIP inclusive service with covers both calls and the phone system, businesses are able to make the most of the opportunities which VoIP brings whilst at the same time having cost certainty.
It is hardly surprising therefore that the FSB recognise the benefits which a robust broadband infrastructure can bring. In their report they call for a commitment to “ensure that no business is in receipt of download speeds of less than 10 Mbps by the end of 2021,” adding that this “would provide immediate benefits to many of those currently experiencing unreliable connectivity and poor coverage.”