The leaders of all 52 of the British Chambers of Commerce have signed a letter to the Government demanding better digital and mobile connectivity for UK businesses.
On the closing day of the Government's consultation on the UK's future digital strategy (19 January), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called on the Government to match the scope and ambition of other countries to create a solid foundation for future business growth.
In a letter to the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, signed by all 52 accredited chambers across the UK, the BCC has highlighted areas where a lack of action is impeding business growth - including mobile coverage, supplier competition and insufficient broadband coverage and speeds.
The BCC is warning that unless UK businesses see swift improvements in reliability, speed, coverage and competition, the performance of individual companies - and UK productivity - may be severely affected.
Specific areas of concern highlighted by the BCC are:
- Broadband: The BCC is calling for the rollout of ultrafast broadband across the UK;
- Mobile coverage: Poor mobile coverage must be eliminated including areas of low connectivity such as business parks and transport hubs;
- Improved competition: The BCC says improved competition and investment in the broadband market will boost access and choice for businesses;
- 5G technology: The BCC is calling for new funding to make 5G a reality in the next decade.
John Longworth, BCC director general, said: "The digital world is changing daily and UK firms have a track record as global innovators and leaders. However, the infrastructure they rely upon is failing to keep pace. Britain may lead the world in ecommerce, but many offices, business parks and road and rail routes lack both mobile and broadband connectivity. Unless we set the bar high - and ensure UK companies have access to world-class digital infrastructure - we will be out-competed by others around the globe."
The UK Government, he said, "must set a far more ambitious digital strategy, starting with an immediate action plan to boost mobile and fibre connections for business. Companies of every size and sector, in every nation and region, are reporting connectivity problems. We need action from ministers, regulators, service providers and businesses themselves if we want to stay competitive in future."