IoD members unhappy with broadband, BT in firing line

A poll of 1,150 IoD members explored business satisfaction, or otherwise, of fixed-line and mobile internet services

The Institute of Directors' (IoD) members say faster broadband means more jobs, more investment and greater productivity, but they have criticised the performance of BT in building the broadband network they require.

A poll of 1,150 IoD members explored business satisfaction, or otherwise, of fixed-line and mobile internet services, and the urban/rural divide in connectivity.

Although the poll showed that 57 percent were "satisfied" with fixed-line download speeds, only 25 percent of IoD members were satisfied with mobile internet download speeds, with 45 percent "dissatisfied".

And satisfaction rates were significantly lower for IoD members doing business in rural areas. Only 34 percent of members in rural areas are satisfied with the speed of their fixed-line downloads, while 45 percent were dissatisfied.

Also, a mere 13 percent of rural business leaders were satisfied with mobile download speeds, while 60 percent were dissatisfied.As a whole, 83 percent of IoD members said "significantly increasing internet speeds" would improve productivity, and 56 percent said greater speeds would encourage them to offer more flexible working opportunities. In addition, 31 percent would invest more in their business, and 13 percent would hire more staff in response to faster broadband.

Openreach however, the BT-owned company which oversees the wires connecting homes and businesses to the local telephone exchange, registered low service satisfaction levels among IoD members.

Overall, 32 percent of IoD members who have dealt with Openreach were satisfied with the service, while 42 percent were dissatisfied. In rural areas only 23 percent of those who have dealt with Openreach were satisfied, compared to 46 percent who were dissatisfied.

BT is currently the only winner of government money to roll-out fibre broadband into rural areas across the UK. Once the infrastructure has been put in, any company, along with BT, will be able to offer faster fibre broadband on a wholesale basis.

Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser to the IoD, said: "Fast, reliable internet connections are essential to a modern business, but far too often our existing infrastructure falls short.

"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 government has a target of making the UK's broadband network the best in Europe by 2015, using "superfast broadband", or fibre, to make it happen.

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