U.K. Small Business Internet Access Speed Requirement Will be 8.1 Mbps in 2015

There is a reason many tier one service providers consider the “small business” customer segment to be indistinguishable from the “consumer” segment: a huge percentage of small business accounts are, in fact, virtually indistinguishable from consumer accounts.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the U.K. government’s leading advisory group on broadband, recently predicted that median downstream demand for small business premises will rise from 5 Mbps  in 2015 to 8.1 Mbps in 2025.

In fact, as often is the case, consumer demand will vastly exceed “business” requirements.

The largest five percent of “small business” sites will see demand grow from 12.9 Mbps to 41.1 Mbps.

In fact, 79 percent of small businesses are single-person or one-employee entities. Only nine percent of firms have between five and 49 employees.

That has direct implications for the amount of bandwidth each buying location requires, as well as for sales and support by Internet service providers. Basically, sales to the 70 percent of small businesses that are sole proprietors has to be done using mass market channels, the same as for consumers.

The other issue is that requirements are not distinct from requirements for selling services to most consumers.

A good percentage of the expected bandwith consumption increase, in a few verticals, is driven by amenity Wi-Fi provided to customers, not internal use by employees.

More than 90 percent of firms have between zero and four employees, putting the 5 Mbps estimate in line with industry rules of thumb of under 1 Mbps per employee.

The largest one percent of 49-employee premises require 189 Mbps or more, for example.

Which industrial sector a company is in is also an important factor in driving bandwidth demands.

The typical business premise in the postal and couriers sector will need around 11 Mbps in 2025, while the typical location in the food and beverage industry will require 57 Mbps.

The majority of food and beverage location demand is driven by customer use of Wi-Fi rather than employees using the connection themselves.

The median upstream demand is 1.3 Mbps today and will grow to 2.7 Mbps.

This contrasts with demand at the largest five percent of firms with upstream demand of 7.2 Mbps in 2015, growing to 36 Mbps by 2025.

Some 67 percent of firms that are sole proprietorships  use fixed broadband, rising to 94 percent of businesses with 20 to 49 employees.

Half of the single employee businesses without fixed access report that they use mobile broadband instead.  

Overall,  65 percent  of small businesses use smartphones.

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