Business broadband booms but dial-up won’t go gently

14 Aug 2006

Three quarters of small businesses and 85pc of large companies now use broadband as their connection of choice for internet access, the telecoms regulator Comreg has said.

Dial-up refuses to die however, with just under one fifth of Irish small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still using it.

From the survey of 552 businesses in Ireland, conducted for ComReg by Millward-Brown IMS, it emerged that half of all SMEs and corporate firms are using business applications which require having broadband-speed connection.

The survey showed that DSL is the most commonly used form of broadband. Its performance is similar across the SME and corporate sectors, with 59pc and 57pc penetration respectively. Of more concern is that the next-highest category for SMEs is dial-up, pay-as-you-go internet services with a 19pc share. ISDN is still used by 9pc of SMEs but its presence in the corporate market is waning at 4pc, down from 13pc in the second half of last year.

Almost a quarter of all corporates (24pc) now use a dedicated leased line for internet access. Just under one in 10 SMEs favour this option too, the results reveal. Wireless broadband has a 4pc share in both categories.

Eircom is the dominant supplier in the internet market, with 70pc of the total. The results indicate that the company made slight gains compared with its performance last year.

Meanwhile, the market share for alternative telcos is strongest in the large corporate sector rather than among small businesses.

The research also found a virtual duopoly in the business mobile market, with 96pc of companies that provide staff with handsets saying they used either Vodafone or O2. Fewer businesses now offer this option to staff, compared with earlier surveys.

There appear to be reasonably healthy levels of customer churn in the fixed-line telecoms market, with 40pc of respondents saying they switched service provider in the past and almost 20pc saying they did so in the past 12 months. However, the survey found that around half of those who previously changed their fixed-line telecoms provider claim to have switched back to their original supplier.

By Gordon Smith