Manufacturers paying 'inflated' broadband costs

Broadband bill and cable Image copyright PA

British manufacturers are paying "inflated" sums to secure fast enough internet access, according to EEF, the manufacturers' organisation.

A survey by EEF found that a quarter of small firms and half of medium-sized firms were paying in excess of £5,000 a year for their internet access.

EEF claims that residential internet access has been given priority over improving access for business.

It wants the government to "urgently" reverse that trend.

"While the quality of networks isn't currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years down the line," said Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist.

'Essential' service

The organisation wants a review of competition for business broadband, with the aim of getting costs to fall over the current parliament.

More than 90% of respondents to the EEF survey said that a high-speed internet connection was "as essential to business as electricity and water".

Without affordable access, Britain could miss out on what the EEF describes as the "fourth industrial revolution".

According to the EEF, two-thirds of manufacturers surveyed planned to invest in equipment and services connected to the internet, including software delivered over the internet and sensors with online connections.

The telecoms regulator Ofcom is currently investigating the provision of broadband in the UK and one option under consideration is splitting up BT, so that broadband infrastructure is managed by an independent company.

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