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New SME Communication Advice from Ofcom

Published: 09/12/14

Ofcom has recently launched a new and dedicated on-line portal to help SMEs make the best choices with regard to their communication services.

The types of services typically used by businesses include landline, broadband and postal services. And we are told that some of the same rules that apply to individuals also apply to businesses, although this varies depending on size and nature of the business. Similarly some rules apply only to businesses with 10 employees or fewer.

The portal contains information on how to get the most from your communication services and your rights as a business customer. It covers:

  • Choosing a service provider – what to consider
  • Changing your provider – how to change provider; what to watch out for when signing up for a service
  • Contracts checklist – what to do before signing up
  • What to do if something goes wrong – how to complain and where to go for help
  • Knowing your rights

It clearly sets out 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.

Plan for small and medium-sized enterprises

In September 2014 Ofcom outlined a plan to help small businesses and the new portal forms part of this initiative. Ofcom is keen that SMEs should benefit from competition and innovation in the market wherever possible and receive regulatory protection where necessary.

This launch coincides with the publication of in-depth research to understand how SMEs use communication services, and the quality of experience that they receive. Results showed that the majority (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 communication services.

Ofcom has pledged to undertake a range of work to ensure that the market is delivering for SMEs, particularly:

  • Promoting widespread availability of superfast broadband
  • Service quality and choice for SMEs
  • Protections for SMEs
  • Ofcom research on SMEs

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “We recognise what a critical sector of the economy the SME community represents, and how important digital communications technology is to this group of business consumers.

“While there have been developments in the range of services available over the past decade, we’re still not confident that SMEs are benefitting as consistently as they should be from high quality digital communications.

“Our work will help ensure that the market is delivering for businesses of all kinds and to make sure that the right protection is in place for them if it isn’t.”


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