Small businesses still confused over ISP offerings: ACA

Small businesses are still facing significant challenges when it comes to choosing their Internet provider, according to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) released findings of a recent survey today which found that the small businesses are struggling to choose from the myriad service offerings on the market.

Small businesses are still facing significant challenges when it comes to choosing their Internet provider, according to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) released findings of a recent survey today which found that the small businesses are struggling to choose from the myriad service offerings on the market.

The ACA spoke to more than 500 small businesses throughout the first half of 2004, and found that they were overwhelmed by the volume and choice of information they faced when choosing an ISP.

"The research found that the number one problem for the small business sector was evaluating different offers from ISPs," said ACA acting chairman, Bob Horton.

Small businesses remain mystified about choosing an Internet service despite the ACA's release of guidelines in June 2002 intended to improve the way that ISPs present their pricing and product information to consumers.

The guideline aimed to standardise the way that ISPs included information such as pricing and billing, and technical support and security in their marketing material.

The ACA today said it would take steps to encourage more ISPs to adhere to the guideline.

"The ACA is also working with ISPs, encouraging them to become signatories to the guideline. Those ISPs that have signed up already are listed on the ACA website, with the products and services they provide," Horton said.

Horton added that the ACA would consult with the ISP industry and small business representatives to come up with a range of measures to "better inform small business of the information and assistance available to them".

Other issues raised by small businesses in the research included spam, broadband availability, slow download rates on dial-up Internet services and connection drop-outs.