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18:12 on Tuesday
28 October 2003

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Businesses continue to connect  

Artile author - Jenny Mogford

Even though the SME (Small Medium Enterprise) sector has had little support in the past when it comes to the Net, suffering frequently from high costs and unreliable service providers, apparently the number of businesses with Internet connections continues to grow, according to recent research published by Oftel (the organisation in charge of telecommunications in the UK).

The new research, conducted among 700 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), shows that: 

  • Internet penetration continues to rise amongst SMEs, with 92% of medium businesses and 59% of small businesses connected;

  • Almost a quarter of surveyed SMEs are using more than one Internet Service Provider (ISP), and 86% are satisfied with the information available to them when choosing their ISP, package and type of Internet connection;

  • A fifth of small businesses and two-fifths of medium businesses have changed their fixed telephony suppliers, with the majority finding this an easy process; and

  • A third of SMEs have switched their mobile network, although some reported a need for further information when making this change and also found it difficult to compare different prices and packages. 

Commenting on these findings, David Edmonds, Director General of Telecommunications, said: "The number of businesses with an Internet connection has increased by over ten percent in the past three months. Over sixty percent of surveyed businesses are now connected with others likely to be 'on-line' soon.

"This research also shows that demand for other telecommunications services from small and medium sized enterprises is growing too.

"Businesses are still making greater use of the choices available to them. The website www.telecomsadvice.org.uk, gives further independent advice on how businesses can take advantage of these choices, particularly for those who find it difficult to compare the different packages available."

This latest quarterly survey is part of Oftel's continuing programme of research and is used in ongoing policy work and market reviews.

A fair proportion of SMEs are using unmetered services and many are going for fixed monthly fee access, which I'm sure has had an effect on smaller companies decisions to go online. 

Well done UK businesses for picking through the minefield of service options, in spite of both BT and Oftel dragging there feet when it comes to improving connectivity with high speed and more bandwidth. We're still lagging way behind much of Europe in this area, so there's much still to be done.. 

May 2001




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