SDSL: UK companies ambivalent despite prices cuts

Analysts report that the symmetrical broadband market is picking up speed but many British businesses still aren't convinced

The cost of high-speed two-way Internet services has plunged dramatically worldwide in the past year but a lot of British businesses are still unwilling to embrace the technology.

That's the word from analyst group Point Topic, which published its latest research into SDSL (symmetrical digital supply line) on Thursday. Point Topic has found that European SDSL prices are falling as incumbent operators begin offering the technology rather than just sticking to more expensive leased-line products.

This increased competition means more pressure on prices. "Some operators have slashed their prices, with cuts of up to 70 percent. Probably for the first time ever, some business broadband services are cheaper in Europe than they are in America," said Tim Johnson, publisher, Point Topic.

SDSL services are more suitable for businesses than ADSL as they provide fast data transfer both upstream and downstream. This can enable a branch office to send data quickly to head office or let a small media company send high-quality graphics or presentations to clients.

But lack of awareness means these advantages are failing to win over many UK firms, warns Point Topic

"It’s still a hard sell. Many small and medium-sized firms aren't convinced about the benefits of SDSL for applications like voice over IP, IP-VPNs and video conference," Johnson said.

This is in marked contrast to the take-up of the fax machine, when most companies almost immediately realised that this was a technology that they couldn't do without, said Johnson.

Johnson also believes that SDSL prices will fall further because operators are still enjoying substantial margins despite recent cuts.