News

The South-West needs better broadband connections to keep up in business

5 min read

03 October 2018

Features Editor, Real Business

The South-West of England is home to a booming rural business economy, but poor internet services threatens to leave them behind.

We all know that business transactions are increasingly taking place over the internet. But what happens when business owners and consumers living in rural areas struggle to connect to the internet?

Imagine if the internet crashed across the whole of London for a day. Think about the money that would be lost, with so many consumers not being able to engage with and access the goods and services businesses offer online?

Well, this dystopian nightmare is the reality for many business owners and consumers across the rural South-West region of the UK.

Whilst the area is home to a booming rural economy, including food production, it’s a pointless endeavor if the main platform people are using to make transactions is defunct.

Somerset-based full fibre infrastructure provider TrueSpeed has released a survey highlighting the extent of the problem in the region:

The South-West slump

The South-West was named the region with the poorest internet connectivity out of the whole of the UK.

With the internet being such an enabler of business to consumer communications, the fact that this fact is the case in a world-leading economy, and in a region that produces much of the UK’s food for a thriving export economy, is disturbing.

The study found that almost half of respondents thought that greater local access to faster broadband for residents and businesses would boost their local area’s economy.

What’s interesting is that the most rural areas of the South-West such as Devon (49%), Dorset (47%) and Somerset (46%) were most in favour of more efficient internet connections.

These areas are not only furthest away from London, but they are also key areas of agrarian, livestock and dairy production.

“Better broadband connectivity can kick-start the region’s digital economy, boost productivity, improve work/life balance, and give more of our young people the opportunity to remain in the South West by taking advantage of the resultant boom in jobs.”  – Evan Wienburg, TrueSpeed

The results reveal a gap between the existence of a thriving export-friendly rural economy, and the facilities needed for these associated businesses to access consumers and relative transportation services online in order to drive their businesses forward. 

According to the research, the demand is so strong it’s currently outstripping calls for other services in the region such as calls for better transportation services, new roads, and more electric car charging points.

This is odd, in a rural region where such calls are often the most urgent among residents when speaking to councils.

What better broadband will do for South-West businesses 

A substantial 40% of respondents said better broadband connectivity would help local businesses gain access to customers beyond the region, thus expanding their economic reach.

Following this, (33%) said better internet would help businesses attract more employee talent via further-reaching recruitment drives. 

“We already have the technology to bring greater prosperity to this region and give our next generation of entrepreneurs the platform they need to compete with the rest of the country and further afield.” – Evan Wienburg, TrueSpeed

An optimistic 26% said it would help foster more jobs in the region, probably as a circular result of better access to more customers, meaning better business growth, which in turn creates more jobs.

Better internet: A better environment for businesses and employees

26% of respondents said a faster and more efficient broadband service would reduce the numbers of gas-guzzling cars on rural roads, as more people will feel able to work remotely from home.

“We simply need local government to push a little harder to fast-track our digital future”.

These sentiments were most pronounced among the 35-54 demographic (30%) which reflects national trends. Where more employees are advocating for more flexible work hours and working from home options for child-caring and wellbeing purposes.