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Internet outages cause an average of 43 hours’ downtime annually for UK businesses

Two thirds of UK businesses experienced Internet connection failures in the last year that prevented them from trading or accessing vital online services, costing £12.3 billion in lost productivity and extra overtime, according to new research conducted by Beaming, the specialist business ISP.

Beaming worked with research company Opinium, a mathematician from Imperial College and more than 500 businesses using a range of Internet providers and connectivity services to understand and quantify the impact of Internet outages on UK businesses and the wider economy. 

It found that 72 percent of businesses – approximately 3.9 million enterprises – experienced Internet downtime during working hours in the year to 31st March 2016, clocking up 149 million hours of Internet downtime between them. The companies affected suffered 43 hours of lost connectivity and losses of £3,125 each on average, the equivalent of £521 per employee.

Impact of downtime on UK economy

While more than one in ten businesses (13 percent) manage Internet outages by switching to alternative connections and a quarter (25 percent) mitigate some downtime by moving to non-Internet related tasks, day-to-day operations grind to a halt at more than a third of businesses (38 percent) when their Internet connection fails. A quarter (23 percent) of business studied said that they were forced to remain open for longer to catch up with time lost due to outages.

13 percent of businesses studied said they started losing money immediately in the event of an outage. The proportion of firms suffering a financial impact rises to more than a quarter after an hour (28 percent) without connectivity and almost half (46 percent) after four hours.

Large and medium-sized businesses lose the fewest productive hours to Internet downtime, however, their greater reliance on Internet technologies and the inability of most to switch to alternative connections quickly in the event of an outage mean they lose a greater proportion of their revenues than smaller companies for every hour of outage they experience.

Connection habits of UK businesses

Beaming’s research showed that businesses relying on consumer Internet services suffered double the downtime (30 hours on average) experienced by users of business connections (16 hours). Despite this, half (51 percent) of micro businesses and 80 percent of sole traders continue to use broadband services designed for home use.

Email was the most important Internet tool used by the businesses studied, with 81 percent of respondents saying that they relied on it to stay fully operational. Half of businesses (51 percent) use the Internet to carry voice traffic, while around a third said they needed a consistent connection to access mission critical applications in the cloud (36 percent), online sales tools (34 percent) and for communication with their mobile workforce (33 percent).

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