Better SME connectivity would contribute extra £3.09bn a year to Birmingham economy

Three Business launches Connectivity Grants to support SME growth in the area


  • Better connectivity among Birmingham SMEs would contribute an extra £3.09bn a year to the local economy
  • Over half (63%) of small and medium business leaders say poor connectivity is a frustration
  • With growth a priority, nine in ten (90%) Birmingham businesses are finding the current economic climate tricky to navigate (compared to 80% across the UK)
  • In response, Three Business is providing investment in the area, launching a package of regional support and Connectivity Grants to Birmingham SMEs including free connectivity, to help them reach their full growth potential

BIRMINGHAM, 28th March 2023 – New research from Three Business has revealed that better connectivity among Birmingham SMEs would contribute an extra £3.09bn a year to the local economy.

With growth front of mind for SMEs, almost two thirds (63%) said their business could grow faster if they had access to better tech (compared to 43% across the UK). And nearly half (46%) think that their business could be left behind because of it (compared to 39% across the country).

The analysis, conducted in partnership with Censuswide and Development Economics also found that while retention is crucial to growing a business, over half (53%) of Birmingham businesses think they could lose good employees as a result of poor connectivity, compared to the UK average of a third (35%). Over half (55%) of SME leaders in Birmingham felt that poor connectivity hinders their business’ potential for growth and are, therefore, looking to improve it.

SMEs call for more support

The research comes as SMEs explore how to manage the rising cost of doing business, as the vast majority (90%) of SME leaders in Birmingham said they find the current economic climate difficult to navigate.

Birmingham businesses have identified where extra practical support would be welcomed:

  • Almost two thirds (62%) felt that better connectivity would ease some of the financial pressures they are facing
  • 54% said that they would welcome connectivity grants as well as guidance on how to get the most out of their connectivity
  • 42% said they would like support paying bills

Three launches connectivity grants

In response, Three Business is launching a new grant scheme worth £150,000 for SMEs in Birmingham, with support from Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. The grants will equip local SMEs with access to Three’s 5G network – the fastest in Birmingham* – as well as a team of Three Business specialists. Businesses can apply to receive one of several 5G Business SIM packages, as well as 5G Business Broadband for two years.

Snehal Bhudia, Director of Business Propositions & Go to Market, Three Business said:

“Businesses frequently tell us that great connectivity is one of the biggest enablers of growth, impacting all aspects of running their business – from the experience they can provide to their customers to how happy their employees are and how well they can carry out their jobs. That’s why we’re providing connectivity grants to businesses in Birmingham, so they can focus on doing what they do best and contribute to their local economies.”

Henrietta Brealey, CEO, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said:

“Birmingham’s business community is diverse, entrepreneurial and very skilled at adapting, particularly after the last few years. Three’s research shows that local businesses are highly aware of the potential for digital technology to either drive growth or risk leaving late adopters behind. But in a cost of doing business crisis, finding the cash and capacity to invest can be challenging.

“That is why we are delighted to support these grants. While work is underway to improve digital connectivity through the Digital City Programme, there’s a real need here and now to get businesses better connected. I’d encourage all Birmingham based SMEs reading this to take a look and consider applying.”

To find out what’s on offer visit here.

To apply for Three UK’s connectivity grant visit here.

Notes to Editors

Media enquiries: Headland

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*Based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for median 5G download speeds. Birmingham, Q3-Q4 2022. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.



The research was commissioned by Three and undertaken by Censuswide and Development Economics. Censuswide surveyed over 500 Senior decision makers in SME businesses (i.e., up to 249 employees) based in the UK, to gauge their opinions on usage, understanding, time and monetary costs of technology within businesses.

Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles


Development Economics used the survey data, alongside various datasets published by the Office for National Statistics, to estimate the average annual amount of Gross Value Added (a statistic which measures the contribution made to an economy by an individual producer, industry, or region) associated with every employee, with regional differences in averages also accounted for. This allowed for an estimate to be calculated on the cost of poor connectivity on UK SMEs and the resulting impact on the economy.


  1. Statistics used throughout for ‘agree’ were derived from those who selected ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’.


About Three 

Three launched in 2003 as the UK’s first 3G only network, laying its foundations as the network that was born to be different. Today Three is a connectivity company that connects people to people, people to things and things to things and has 9.96 million customers.

Our network today covers 99% of the UK population and we carry 28% of the UK’s mobile data traffic.


Three launched 5G in August 2019, is the largest holder of spectrum in the UK and has been recognised by Ookla as having the UK’s fastest 5G network. It is the only operator able to meet the International Telecoms Union (ITU) 2020 standard of 100MHz of contiguous spectrum for full 5G services.


Three is the official partner and shirt sponsor of Chelsea FC men’s and women’s teams.

Three UK is a proud partner of Samaritans, where it will use the strength of its network and technology to connect 1 million people to emotional support.


Three was voted the Best Network for Data by uSwitch, and the Best Wholesale Partner at the Mobile Industry Awards.


Three UK is part of the CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd group of companies which has mobile operations in 11 countries. We employ more than 4,800 people across our offices in Reading and Glasgow and our 311 retail stores.

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