Almost 60 million hours of working time were lost by UK businesses to internet outages last year, according to a new study from Beaming, the business internet service provider. On average, UK businesses experienced two major outages and 16 hours of downtime each in 2018. With the help of a mathematician from Imperial College, Beaming estimates that these outages cost the UK economy £742m in lost productivity and extra overtime.
Beaming’s study, which was undertaken by researchers at Opinium and involved users of different internet service providers, indicates that 42% of UK businesses, some 2.4 million nationwide, suffered at least one significant internet connection failure in 2018 that prevented them from trading or accessing online services.
A fifth (21%) of business leaders said that day-to-day operations at their organisations couldn’t continue without access to connectivity, and 18% said that they had to open outside of their normal hours to catch-up on work that couldn’t be done while the internet was down.
Superfast broadband most popular form of connectivity
Although superfast fibre broadband was the most popular form of internet service across all sizes of business surveyed, with 39% of leaders saying they used these part-copper/part-fibre connections, the research identified a tipping point in the use of full fibre connectivity.
Rates of adoption for the different forms of fibre connectivity, which connect to the internet via a fibre cable and the UK’s shared broadband infrastructure or - alternatively - uses an Ethernet leased line to access the internet directly over a dedicated business connection, increase significantly when businesses grow: from 26% of small businesses to 39% of medium sized companies.
Beaming’s research found that smaller businesses achieved lower internet speeds, on average, than their larger counterparts. While micro businesses recorded download rates of 50.5 Mbps, on average, in online speeds tests, one in five (17%) firms with 10 people or fewer said they were getting download speeds of less than 10 Mbps currently. By comparison, small businesses reported download speeds of 62.8 Mbps, medium sized firms 71.8 Mbps and large companies 94.2 Mbps on average, which is reflected in the uptake of fibre technology.
Small and micro businesses least satisfied with internet services
Although the levels of outages and downtime experienced by small and micro businesses were no greater than their larger counterparts, micro companies were the least satisfied with their internet services. Just 71% of businesses employing fewer than 10 people felt they were getting good quality, affordable internet connectivity, compared to 78% of small businesses and 85% of medium and large companies.
Businesses using fibre Ethernet leased lines and superfast fibre broadband services were most likely to be satisfied with their internet services, with 83% and 87% of users respectively saying they enjoyed good quality, affordable internet connectivity. The proportion of satisfied businesses fell to 72% of standard ADSL broadband users, 73% of those using mobile phone network connectivity and just 53% of those using specialist ‘over-the-air’ wireless broadband services.
Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, comments: "Businesses today rely on connectivity to stay fully operational, and when the internet fails there is significant disruption and damage to productivity, profitability and morale. The benefits of direct fibre are well recognised now, and as companies get bigger they are investing at a greater rate in faster and more reliable Ethernet services that deliver fibre optic connectivity that is dedicated to the business.
“Although smaller businesses are getting better at managing the impact of internet outages, we are focused on ensuring these failures don't happen in the first place, and if they do, doing everything possible to restore service as quickly as possible. Our customers see connectivity as mission-critical, and they use Beaming and its specialist technical services to achieve as close to 100% uptime as they possibly can.
“While the number of significant internet failures was similar to previous years, it is encouraging to see that the overall amount of downtime is coming down. Companies are making greater use of specialist business internet services with better communication and higher service level agreements to ensure normal service is resumed faster than is the case with consumer-focused internet providers."