Digital divide between corporates and SMEs over VoIP usage

10 Jun 2009

While 44pc of corporate business in Ireland use voice over IP (VoIP), only one in every 10 SMEs in Ireland uses the technology, signalling a growing digital divide between the technology haves and their smaller have-not counterparts.

Most SMEs in Ireland that do use VoIP use Skype, while corporates are more likely to use in-house VoIP systems.

The latest survey on the use of ICT by Irish businesses by telecoms regulator ComReg found that another divide is emerging in the form of telecoms costs. Some 57pc of corporates have experienced a fall in telecoms costs, compared with only 25pc of SMEs.

The survey by Millward Brown IMS covered 502 SMEs (firms that employ less than 100 people) and 53 large corporates.

Despite the obvious discrepancies in technology and cost savings, 70pc of firms surveyed said they believe the Irish telecoms market is more competitive than a year ago, and 62pc believe there are savings to be had.

Overall, 92pc of businesses have internet access – but this counts for little in a Europe where higher broadband speeds via fibre will outshine DSL speeds in an Ireland blighted by the lack of a national fibre infrastructure of any merit.

Despite the passing of 11 years since deregulation of the Irish telecoms market, Eircom continues to be the main internet service provider (ISP) in the Irish market.

While the majority of corporate businesses use Eircom-only, around a third use Eircom in tandem with services from other providers.

Businesses that use a provider other than Eircom are more likely to be based in the financial services sector (34pc) or based in Dublin (24pc) and Munster (25pc).

A mere two out of every five companies now claim to use other providers as their primary ISP.

Around 81pc of businesses in Ireland provide employees with mobile phones, the survey showed.

Average monthly expenditure by businesses on mobile telecoms now stands at €981, down from the €1,213 average at the end of 2006.

Just under 30pc of businesses in Ireland have reported experiencing a network fault at some stage in the past 12 months.

By John Kennedy