The purpose of this paper is to review recent government policy to provide a context for an exploratory study of broadband take up and use by small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Thames Valley region of the UK. In recent years, the business environment has been fundamentally altered by the information and communication revolution that has changed the way in which businesses are created, operated and managed. However, the take up of broadband amongst SMEs remains low. Recent government policy has focussed on stimulating both supply and demand sides of the market for broadband technology as an entry point for SMEs.
The paper discusses the impact of government policy upon the use of broadband by SMEs and considers how occupiers are using and benefiting from the use of broadband.
The research undertaken indicates that government policy promoting broadband take up amongst SMEs has been effective in terms of the achievement of targets. The majority of SMEs in the case study are now equipped with broadband. However, their use of broadband appears to be limited to the more rudimentary uses for communication and searching for information as opposed to advanced applications such as e‐business and marketing.
Current government policy is aimed at promoting ICT for SMEs, but their effectiveness and success is yet to be measured. There is a need for more research in respect of the impact of broadband upon the working practices of SMEs, their business performance and relative competitiveness.
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