A survey by the British Chamber of Commerce has revealed that businesses all over the UK are experiencing full or partial ‘not-spots’ in their mobile coverage, hampering their trade.
Not-Spots and Non-Spots
The BCC surveyed 1,465 business people from all regions of the UK, 96% of whom represented SMEs. The survey found that 70% of firms experience mobile ‘non-spots’ (areas without mobile coverage from any operator) or ‘partial not-spots’ (where there is some coverage but not from all networks), in their local area.
The survey also showed that the proportion of businesses experiencing these problems is 91% – far higher than the 56% of businesses who have these issues in inner cities.
29% of businesses said they had unreliable mobile internet connections, with the figure rising to 54% in rural areas.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“All across the country businesspeople complain about patchy mobile coverage and unreliable internet connections in their local areas. Time and again, I hear from frustrated businesspeople who can’t use their mobiles or access the internet when they need to – basic requirements for companies to work on the move, trade online, and connect with customers and suppliers.
“Rural businesses are particularly affected by poor mobile coverage and connectivity, but our research shows that ‘not-spots’ are prevalent across the UK. It’s incredible to hear that in this day and age there are even places in the City of London where businesses can’t get reliable coverage.
The 4G Dream Not Realised
Only 42% of businesses said they had a 4G connection. Again, this figure was far lower in rural areas (25%) and higher in inner cities (54%). There was also a marked difference between the 4G connectivity of large businesses with 500+ employees, which stood at 57%, and that of the smallest businesses (1-4 employees), which was just 41%.
“As the regulator, Ofcom must do more to hold providers to account for the services advertised to business customers, and put in place remedies that are as strong for business users as they are for individual consumers,” said Adam Marshall. “According to their rules, virtually all UK premises must receive 4G signal by the end of the year, but the results of our research suggest that we’re a long way off achieving that target.
“It’s clear that the UK is lagging in the delivery of access to a world-class digital infrastructure. While there have been welcome announcements to roll out 5G in the future, it’s clear that getting all businesses access to 4G first remains a top priority.
The Chamber Network’s election manifesto specifically calls for these issues to be rectified, and for the next government to provide all businesses with super-fast and reliable broadband and mobile connectivity to boost confidence and productivity.”