06 November 2014
Small businesses can now access information and advice to help them make the most of communications services, following the launch of a dedicated online portal from Ofcom.
The site - www.ofcom.org.uk/advice-for-businesses - includes advice specifically tailored for businesses on choosing or switching to a new provider, as well as information on navigating and negotiating contracts, and resolving complaints with a provider.
It sets out clearly Ofcom’s role and the rules communications providers must follow when dealing with business customers, offering advice on landline telephone, broadband, mobile and postal services. A summary of the rights of businesses, both large and small, is also available.
This forms part of Ofcom’s SME Plan - work to help ensure that the communications market is delivering for small and medium sized enterprises. Ofcom wants SMEs to be able to benefit from competition and innovation in the market wherever possible and receive regulatory protection where necessary.
The launch of the business portal coincides with the publication of in-depth research to understand how SMEs use communications services, and the quality of experience they receive. This showed that the majority of SMEs (85%) feel well served overall by the communications market.
One in six (17%), however, did not feel well informed about how communications services could help their organisation survive and grow, while around a third (34%) did not have confidence in identifying which new products and services would be valuable to their business.
Some SMEs have also experienced problems in terms of the provision and reliability of communications services. To further explore these issues, Ofcom is today asking SMEs and communications providers to give their views on current levels of availability, choice and quality of communications services for SMEs.
Ofcom’s SME experience of communications services research gauged the views of 1,500 SMEs across the UK to measure their usage of and attitudes towards communications services. Key findings were:
Ofcom is today asking for views on whether the current provision of communications services is meeting the needs of SMEs.
This evidence will help Ofcom to further identify particular issues in terms of the availability, quality and reliability of services and develop policies to address them where appropriate. Subject to responses, which must be received by 2 January 2015, Ofcom will outline any next steps in spring next year.
This is part of a detailed programme of work to ensure that the communications market is delivering for SMEs.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Ofcom is committed to supporting and protecting the interests of the SME community, a critical sector of the UK economy. We’ve already identified that SMEs are not benefitting as consistently as they should be from high quality digital communications. In particular, there is a greater need for more widespread availability of high-speed broadband and reliable mobile coverage.
“A significant programme of work is under way to ensure the communications needs of SMEs are better met. As part of this, we are today asking SMEs to share their first-hand experiences of communications services to help us further identify problems and tackle them.”