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February 22, 2013

Faster broadband would 'boost UK productivity'

A new poll conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) suggests that faster broadband would create more jobs, attract more investment and lead to greater productivity in the UK.

The findings indicate that a faster internet service would improve the productivity of 83% of companies and would encourage 13% to hire new staff.

The survey of over 1,000 IoD members has revealed widespread dissatisfaction with download speeds – only 57% of IoD members are satisfied with fixed-line download speeds, and 50% say they are satisfied with fixed-line upload speeds. In addition, only 25% of business leaders say they are satisfied with mobile internet speeds, compared to 45% who are dissatisfied.

The survey also highlights the considerable town/country divide that exists in the UK, with 45% of IoD members in rural areas saying they are dissatisfied with the speed of their fixed-line downloads. Only 13% of rural business leaders are satisfied with mobile download speeds.

The poll highlights the economic benefits that faster internet connections could deliver. As well as improving productivity, it found that fast connections would encourage 31% to invest more in their business and 56% to offer more opportunities for flexible working.

Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser at the IoD, said: "Fast, reliable internet connections are essential to a modern business – but far too often our existing infrastructure falls short. Increasing internet speeds would encourage many employers to invest in expanding their businesses and taking on more staff, giving the economy a welcome boost. There is a lot of work to be done before the service provided in the real world matches up to the rhetoric coming from Westminster and Whitehall."

The survey comes as telecoms regulator Ofcom announces that it has raised £2.34bn from its auction of the 4G mobile spectrum. The winning bidders are Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT subsidiary), Telefonica (O2) and Vodafone. 4G mobile broadband should provide smartphone and tablet computer users with superfast download speeds.