Firms without broadband 'stuck in ignorance'

Companies benefit from making the leap to broadband, but too many firms are failing to appreciate the benefits of upgrading, warns union

Broadband has improved the way that many businesses operate, but a majority of firms without a high-speed Internet connection still don't think it is worth upgrading.

These are the key conclusions of research published last week by Intellect, the IT and telecommunications trade union, which suggests that lack of awareness, not price or availability, is the key handicap to increased broadband uptake by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Earlier this month Intellect surveyed 400 SMEs from its membership, two-thirds of which already had broadband.

This survey found evidence that broadband is bringing widespread benefits to UK companies.

Eighty-two percent of broadband-enabled companies surveyed said they thought that the technology had improved their internal processes, 64 percent felt it had improved the way they work with external partners, and 50 percent believed it has improved their customer-facing processes.

However, companies without broadband generally see little reason to invest in a high-speed connection.

Some 72 percent of SMEs without broadband surveyed said they hadn't upgraded because they were happy with their current service, and 14 percent said they couldn't see the value in broadband. Lack of availability was given as a reason by a further 14 percent of firms.

Intellect also found that that almost half -- 44 percent -- of the companies without broadband have no plans to upgrade in the future.

John Higgins, chief executive of Intellect, has urged the broadband industry to address this lack of understanding about the benefits of broadband within the SME community.

"There is a huge job to be done telling people about the ways that broadband can benefit their businesses," Higgins told the Building Broadband Britain conference last week.

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