Brunel shows broadband avoiders what they're missing

A tool under development at Brunel University will illustrate to firms how broadband could improve the way they operate, in the hope of getting them to upgrade

Researchers at Brunel University are developing an application that will show businesses how much time and money they could save by moving to broadband.

The software tool is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who still use a narrowband connection, and those who have no Internet access at all. It will run on the desktop, and flag up occasions when business processes would be cheaper, faster or more efficient over broadband.

By illustrating the business benefits of a high-speed connection, Brunel hopes to persuade more firms to upgrade to ADSL, cable, wireless or satellite broadband.

There is growing concern within the telecoms industry that many companies are failing to upgrade to broadband because they don't believe the technology is worth the money. Recent studies by Oftel and IT trade body Intellect have found that while most broadband adopters say it is indispensable, many of those without it say they can't see a business case to justify the expense of upgrading.

"Our objective is to understand the small companies' working processes and help them build reliable 'before and after' scenarios, showing how their business processes and efficiency could be significantly enhanced by broadband," explained Dr Jyoti Choudrie, operations director at the Brunel Broadband Research Centre.

"Once developed, our tool will guide businesses through the practical steps companies should take to unlock these benefits. Broadband can bring significant improvements in productivity, profitability and competitiveness - and we're looking for partners to help share these messages with SMEs throughout the UK," Choudrie added.

The software, dubbed a "self help tool for SMEs baffled by broadband" is expected to launch next year.