‘VoIP? What’s that?’, say majority of SME bosses

22 Jan 2008

Less than half of small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) owner-managers (43pc) have heard of voice over internet protocol (VoIP), while 5pc have not heard of wireless broadband, a new survey by O2 Ireland has found.

The study, conducted for O2 Ireland by TNS mrbi, revealed some 60pc have never heard of 3G data cards.

Almost two thirds (63pc) of SME owner-managers who enquired about broadband found it was not available either at home or in the office, according to the survey. However, two thirds of SMEs now have broadband access from the office, up from 34pc when the annual O2 study commenced in 2004. Broadband access from the office is most common in Dublin at an 83pc penetration level, with office penetration rates of 62pc in Munster, 58pc in Connacht/Ulster and 57pc in the rest of Leinster.

The survey found some 35pc of SME owner-managers who use a PC or laptop are considering signing up for mobile broadband, with 14pc already using mobile broadband.

O2 has grown its number of mobile broadband subscribers to almost 35,000 since the service was launched in July 2007, the company said.

“While mobile broadband is relatively new and currently represents a small part of the overall broadband market, our survey suggests there is significant potential and demand for broadband amongst Irish SMEs,” said Billy D’Arcy, head of corporate and business sales, O2 Ireland. “The slow rollout of fixed-line broadband in many cases could be compensated for by mobile broadband.

“We believe mobile broadband is the most important development in business communications since the introduction of the mobile phone itself,” added D’Arcy. “This research suggests that Irish SMEs can see the major benefits of mobile broadband in terms of convenience, productivity, responsiveness and greater control.”

O2 stated that it is continuing to rollout its EDGE network “rapidly”, which will provide access for O2 customers outside its HSDPA (high-speed download packet access) network, which now covers 87pc of the population. The company said there will be full EDGE coverage by April.

The O2 annual Business Confidence Survey polled 301 companies employing between 1 and 250 people nationwide.

By Niall Byrne