One in five Irish SMEs still accesses the internet via dial-up, new research commissioned by Vodafone reveals. However, patchy coverage and take-up of DSL is leading to growing demand for mobile broadband services like HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access).
The study of SMEs across the Irish business universe was conducted via an online panel with decision makers.
It found that a fifth of small firms continue to rely on old dial-up technology to access the internet.
While DSL is now the most frequently used internet connection technology, patchy take-up and availability is underlined by the fact that 16pc of SMEs rely on dial-up and 22pc use ISDN.
The survey found that 33pc of firms are using an array of new broadband services combining 3G mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and satellite technology.
Vodafone’s head of business marketing Eavann Murphy said one of the clear conclusions of the study is that Irish businesses are moving away from traditional fixed-line internet services and are taking advantage of the flexibility of a broadband connection that’s confined to the office.
“What is most striking about the research is the willingness among small firms to adopt new technology, such as 3G Broadband,” Murphy explained.
“Demand for a fully flexible and reliable broadband solution is certainly tangible and as we increase awareness of the benefits of 3G Broadband, particularly in terms of how it meets the concerns of small business by being cost effective, reliable and flexible, we expect to see more SMEs moving away from traditional slow or inflexible means of connecting to the internet and becoming fully mobile.”
Murphy added that the increase in mobile broadband penetration is also giving rise to increasing numbers of mobile workers, with almost 80pc of SMEs saying they have employees who work outside the office.
The research showed that 77pc of employees in Ireland’s small business community actually have access to the internet or email at work.
Employees of companies in the professional, IT, finance and media sectors are most likely to have internet access at work (91pc) while those in small construction firms (72pc) are least likely.
Interestingly the research revealed that 7pc of Irish SMEs no longer use landlines at all.
“With 7pc of larger SMEs now depending completely on mobile services for their communications needs, it is evident that landlines are becoming irrelevant for many companies,” Murphy added.
By John Kennedy