DSL fuels net access for more Irish businesses


18 Aug 2004

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More small businesses in Ireland use DSL for internet access than any other means, the latest figures from IDC indicate. Overall, DSL is found in 31pc of all organisations, having overtaken the percentage of leased lines since last year.

DSL is most prevalent in small businesses, where it accounts for 37pc of the market for internet access technologies. In larger organisations the figure may be less clear cut as some businesses may use more than one connection.

“Certainly, this is a very positive finding,” commented John Gilsenan, a consultant with IDC. “It shows the success of the supply side compared with last year. DSL is hoovering up dial-up and ISDN connections; that’s the trend to look for,” he added. By May of this year, dial-up fell to just 11pc from 21pc and ISDN dropped to 18pc from 26pc. In May 2003, leased lines had been the dominant internet access method across all company types, followed by ISDN and dial-up; DSL then lagged some way behind with just 15pc of the total.

To ensure an accurate comparison over the 12-month period, IDC asked the same respondents what their access methods were then and now.

Looking ahead 12 months to May 2005, IDC also found that 37pc of all Irish businesses will be using DSL as their primary method of internet access. The manufacturing sector will see the biggest increase in DSL usage between this year and next, according to IDC.

Dial-up is set to fall further out of favour as just 8pc of all companies intend to be still using it in 2005. In addition, ISDN is set to fall further back to 12pc. Leased lines will hold relatively steady with a quarter of all organisations still using them. Access via the cable TV network has gained slightly and will do so again, albeit from a very low base. Last year 3pc of businesses used it, this year 4pc and next year it will grow to 5pc.

Although the means may vary, there remain very few alternatives to fixed-line internet access, the statistics suggest. Just 1pc of all business types currently use wireless; broken down by sector, business services firms are the biggest users of wireless. Satellite access figures in only one category – companies of less than 100 employees – and even then it represents just 1pc of the total.

Interestingly, the IDC data also gave an insight into perceptions of what Irish organisations consider to be broadband. Survey respondents were asked directly whether they thought their main internet access method qualified as broadband and their answers were cross-tabulated against each access category. Despite recent marketing efforts by service providers to promote broadband as a fast alternative to other access methods, 15pc of dial-up users and 41pc of ISDN users said they believed they had broadband connections. “It shows the service providers still have a bit of work to do,” said Gilsenan.

The findings came from IDC’s annual user survey, IT Trends and Expenditure in Ireland, which has also revealed the most positive outlook for Irish IT budgets in three years. Some 43pc of organisations in Ireland, across the finance, public sector, transport, manufacturing and retail markets, said they plan to spend more on technology in 2004 than they did last year.

By Gordon Smith