3.9 Million Businesses Hit by Internet Outages in 2015, Lose GBP12.3bn - ISPreview UK
A new Opinium survey of 500 businesses in the United Kingdom, which was commissioned by an ISP called Beaming, has claimed that 3.9 million enterprises (72% of businesses) suffered “up to” 8 Internet outages and 43 hours of downtime each during 2015 and they could have lost productivity worth an estimated £12.3 billion.

The study (we’d take its estimated figures with a pinch of salt) also found that the worst hit are smaller businesses, many of which tend to rely on consumer grade broadband connectivity (e.g. ADSL, FTTC etc.) and these suffered double the amount of downtime. Nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses were also forced to remain open for longer to catch up with time lost due to outages.

Despite that some 51% of “micro businesses” and 80% of sole traders (self-employed) continue to use broadband services designed for home use, which is hardly surprising because many sole traders tend to work from home or don’t earn enough to afford an expensive dedicated line.

By comparison large and medium-sized firms experienced fewer outages because they were able to use more stable / dedicated links (e.g. leased lines). On the flip side their size meant they lost a greater proportion of their revenues than smaller companies to Internet outages.

Apparently 13% of businesses said they started losing money immediately in the event of an outage and the proportion of firms suffering a financial impact rises to 28% after 1 hour without connectivity and 46% after 4 hours. Strikingly only 13% of businesses managed an outage by switching to an alternative (backup) connection, while 25% mitigated downtime by moving to “non-Internet related tasks” and 38% suffered a complete halt in their day-to-day operations.

Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director of Beaming, said:

“The internet is the greatest business resource ever invented, but our increasing reliance on connectivity creates new risks for those that need it the most. The pace of business is now such that any downtime means missed opportunities, lost productivity and a huge amount of stress as businesses race to get back on track. It is only when businesses experience a problem that they find their large, consumer orientated broadband provider expects them to self-cure problems online or queue for hours on the phone to gain assistance.

Internet failures happen for all sorts of reasons, including equipment failures and malicious attacks. All businesses that use the internet should have a plan to ensure connectivity is restored quickly and that any disruption is minimised. The quality, reliability and consistency of service and the availability of technical support should be as important to business buyers as speed of service.”
The Government has recently launched a new review of business connectivity, which aims to understand “what barriers businesses are facing in accessing superfast broadband” and what sort of connectivity firms are likely to need in terms of future performance and affordability (here).

Ultimately the biggest change will probably come from improvements in underlying network connectivity, such as those already being delivered through the Broadband Delivery UK programme with BT, as well as network expansion from Virgin Media and many other smaller ISPs.

Elsewhere the above study also found that 81% of businesses viewed email as their most important Internet tool. Meanwhile 51% also used the Internet to carry voice calls (VoIP, Skype etc.), 36% made use of the cloud to store and process data online, 34% used it for online sales tools and 33% found the Internet to be essential for keeping in contact with their mobile workforce.