Digital infrastructure ambitions “need to be raised to help Suffolk businesses grow”
“This is a good report that has nailed the nature of the problem, but its solutions need to be more ambitious to truly help local businesses grow and succeed. Despite the welcome achievements of Better Broadband in Suffolk many of our businesses still face a long wait for superfast connectivity whilst also frustrated by the stubborn persistence of 3G mobile ‘not spots’.”
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce was responding to the publication earlier in the week of the connectivity report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The report points out the current over-reliance on the existing copper access network instead of driving fibre-to-the-premises in the rollout of superfast broadband and the impact of businesses of patchy mobile phone coverage.
John Dugmore continued “many Suffolk businesses still do not have superfast broadband, and we fully support the Government prioritising the delivery of connections to business users.
“However, the target of a 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation as a starting point is not ambitious enough. Our Suffolk Chamber Transport and Infrastructure Manifesto promotes business prioritisation, 100% coverage across Suffolk of 24Mbps by 2017 and 100% coverage of 100Mbps by the end of the decade”.
The Manifesto also calls for a 100% coverage of the county by all 3G networks and a complete 4G rollout soon after.
“It is important for the government’s Digital Strategy to be published as soon as possible so businesses can review if it is fit for purpose. Here in Suffolk, we still see too many businesses suffering from poor service standards, ‘not spots’, unreliable connections and a market structure that fails to offer competition and choice. Unless firms see improvements on reliability, speed and coverage, their performance, and the productivity of the UK as a whole, will continue to be severely affected.”
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce believes the ongoing active support of the county’s seven MPs will be vital in lobbying the Government to raise its ambitions to deliver what local businesses need in terms of digital infrastructure.
John Dugmore added “the fact that West Suffolk MP, Matthew Hancock, is now the minister of state for digital policy, is good news for all businesses concerned about keeping and sharpening their competitive edge and productivity levels”.