Editor | 20 May 2016
Small businesses set to welcome better WiFi

Small businesses set to welcome better WiFi

Wireless internet is the lifeblood of many independent businesses and freelancers in the UK.

A growing number of businesses can be set up with little more than a computer and a high speed internet connection. And faster internet can boost productivity and increase output. So entrepreneurs will surely welcome proposals that will see much faster mobile internet in the UK.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, plans to open up more airwaves for WiFi signals in a move that it believes will significantly increase download speeds for mobile devices like laptops and smartphones.

The regulator notes that more and more individuals and businesses are relying on mobile devices to connect to the internet. Last year, for the first time, the number of Google searches on wirelessly connected smartphones overtook the number of Google searches on desktop devices, which are often hardwired into internet routers.

Ofcom also notes that increasingly, mobile devices are being used for intensive processes like streaming music or video from popular internet services like Spotify and Netflix.

Philip Marnick, Group Director of Spectrum at Ofcom, said: “People are placing greater demands on their broadband, so we need to ensure they aren't let down by their wireless connection.”

Mr Marnick also raised concerns about the gap between advertised download speeds from internet service providers and the speeds that people are actually getting on their mobile devices, suggesting that congested signal ranges could be contributing to the problem.

Ofcom estimates that one in five broadband connections are being slowed down by problems with wireless signals. The regulator’s consumer website offers advice and a WiFi checker app to help people identify problems and boost broadband speeds.

WiFi on the go

More good news for freelancers and business owners who like to work on the move, in addition to getting faster, WiFi is also becoming more widely available.

Last week, Edinburgh announced that residents and visitors would get access to free WiFi in the city centre. Other cities like London and Manchester also offer free WiFi, albeit on a timed basis (with users able to access free WiFi for 15 or 30 minutes at a time).

Public transport operators have also been getting in on the act. Dozens of bus, rail and tram operators have started offering free WiFi to those travelling on their services. Most recently, First Group hit the headlines when they unveiled a new £25 train service between London and Edinburgh with free WiFi and no first class allocation.

British Airways also recently pledged to boost WiFi speeds on its transatlantic flights so that people can get more done, even when they’re in the air. They hope that a new router system will give them the fastest wireless internet in the air.

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