Irish firms are spending 15pc less on mobile services and 60pc of firms are still getting their internet services from incumbent Eircom. Up to 92pc of Irish firms today have internet access and four out of 10 have switched mobile provider in the last year.
The latest Comreg business survey reveals that the recession is continuing to impact on telecoms spending by businesses but indicates that in areas like mobile, firms are willing to shop around.
But not so, it appears, in fixed line. The survey’s revelation that 67pc of businesses are now supplied by Eircom as a sole fixed line provider and that Eircom provides 57pc of businesses with internet access (a 9pc drop in the last five years) is a cause for serious concern, warned telecoms group ALTO.
In fixed line, however, little has changed with only four out of 10 firms opting for internet services from competitors to incumbent Eircom.
The survey, based on research conducted by Millward Brown Landsdowne during February and March, involved 497 SMEs with less than 100 employees and 53 corporates with more than 100 employees.
The survey found that average monthly spend on mobile services has decreased to €838 from €981 in the same period last year, a 15pc fall.
Eircom continues to be the main internet service provider (ISP) in the market used by businesses in Ireland; however, the use of other providers continues to grow with just more than four in 10 businesses now using a provider other than Eircom.
Nearly half of corporates claim download speeds of more than 10Mb and nearly a quarter of corporates (23pc) have a broadband connection with speeds of between 10Mb and 20Mb.
More than six in 10 (63pc) of all businesses with internet believe their ISP is delivering the speeds stated in their internet package terms and conditions.
Businesses rate their satisfaction with the speeds they receive from their ISPs very highly – three-quarters say they are satisfied.
Some 56pc of broadband users consider the reliability of their broadband connection to be the most important aspect of their broadband service. Factors such as upload and download speeds, mobility and cost of broadband services do not appear to be significant considerations for businesses with broadband access.
Eight in 10 of all businesses surveyed provide their employees with company mobile phones.
Media Release – 21 April 2010
However, 42pc of SMEs and 49pc of corporates indicated their mobile phone spend has decreased in the last 12 months and four in 10 businesses have switched mobile provider in the last 12 months.
Average monthly spend by businesses on their fixed line service is €1,190.
A quarter of businesses experienced a network related fault with their fixed line in the last 12 months. Of those who reported a fault, six in 10 had the fault repaired within two days.
In terms of voice over IP (VoIP), one in 10 VoIP users use it as a complete replacement for PSTN – with the use of VoIP for international calls being the main use of the service.
Some 84pc of businesses state that their company’s overall telecommunications costs have either decreased or stayed the same in the last 12 months.
About half of businesses said they foresee a reduction in future ICT spend.
Commenting on the survey’s revelation that close to 70pc of firms still receive telecoms services from incumbent Eircom, ALTO chairman Ronan Lupton argues that regulatory conditions are still not sufficiently stringent against Eircom.
“At this point, Eircom should be forced to split into a wholesale and retail business to end its market hegemony,” Lupton warns.
“If the European functional separation remedy were deployed, a separate infrastructure wholesaler would have a vested interest in supporting a diversified market. This can only benefit the telecoms industry and businesses.
“The Government must now consider more effective regulatory conditions for next-generation network access, given the lessons learned from the failure of regulating Eircom,” Lupton said.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Some 56pc of broadband users consider the reliability of their broadband connection to be the most important aspect of their broadband service, a Comreg business survey suggests