The Internet connections used by many UK businesses are so slow and unreliable four out of ten employees think their home broadband is faster, according to research for office services firm Daisy Group.
In total, 39 percent of the 2,000 office workers preferred their home broadband, with 28 percent rating the work connection to be superior and a third believing they were roughly equivalent.
When questioned about Internet downtime at work, all of the employees who used it as part of their work (72 percent) said they experienced some service interruptions in any week, with the average being between three and four times.
When connections ground to a halt, the average outage was 14 minutes, equivalent to 48 minutes per week, per worker. Almost all workers filled this time with unproductive activities such as scanning Facebook on a mobile connection or making a cup of tea.
The poll broke the results into a number of industry sectors but the issue of slow or broken Internet connectivity seems to be universal across all, which suggests a deeper issue than skimping on service alone.
"Too many businesses are still relying on basic ADSL connections that are aimed at the residential users. These are the businesses that struggle to cope with the high-bandwidth demands of software and apps that workers use,” argued Daisy Group data group product manager, Jan Wielenga.
“It is simply unacceptable for businesses that rely heavily on the internet to experience periods of downtime, particularly at a time when fibre and dedicated Ethernet connections have never been more affordable and available.”
There is probably some truth in this although the type of networking equipment used to manage the Internet connection is another possible explanation, especially for SMEs – coping with periods of high contention requires a fairly substantial router for instance.
Whatever the explanation, Daisy Group believes on the basis of this research that the average UK worker could be losing nearly five working days per annum in lost productivity simply through poor Internet connectivity.
One problem remains the unavailability of fast connectivity in many areas coupled to its relative expense where it can be found.
The firm has been trying to assess the take-up of grants under the Government’s SuperConnected Cities scheme that offers £3,000 grants to businesses in certain postcodes to help them buy faster connectivity. This is due to be expanded to more areas from next month.
“A strong digital infrastructure has become the backbone of any forward-thinking organisation because it ensures that they are prepared for the future,” said Wielenga.
In December, regulator Ofcom noted that many UK SMEs are unable to access fast broadband away from large cities and conurbations.