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Large firms dissatisfied with advanced data services

Service providers are providing a poor service and are difficult to switch from, businesses tell Ofcom
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Large UK businesses are not satisfied with the advanced data services they receive and many find switching providers difficult, an Ofcom survey has revealed.

As part of its research into large business use of telecoms services, published last Wednesday, the regulator discovered that while 73 percent of large businesses were satisfied overall with their fixed-line and mobile phone services, only 44 percent thought the same of the advanced data services they received.

Ofcom defined large businesses as those with 250 or more employees, and noted there were 7,700 such companies in the UK. Its research was conducted through interviews with 147 respondents in May and June of this year.

Advanced data services were defined as including "leased lines, IP telephony, access to the Internet, web-hosting, services supporting e-business, security, storage, private circuits and networks".

The low opinion of advanced data services continued when it came to customer service and account management — 60 percent of companies were satisfied with their fixed line services in this regard, 68 percent with mobile services and only 43 percent with advanced data services.

Similarly, only 38 percent of companies thought they were getting value for money with their advanced data services, compared with 64 percent for fixed line services and 61 percent for mobile. Only 29 percent of large businesses found it easy to compare the costs of different suppliers for advanced data services, and 22 percent found it easy to compare overall quality.

Many large businesses find it difficult to switch advanced data service providers, the report suggested, quoting 37 percent of respondent as saying it was fairly or very difficult to switch providers — although 32 percent said it was very or fairly easy to do so.

On the positive side, Ofcom's research found that most large businesses reported an increased choice of suppliers over the last year.  Ten percent of respondents reported a worsening in the overall quality of service for advanced data services, but 22 percent claimed the situation had improved. That said, satisfaction levels were still much higher in terms of choice when it came to fixed line and mobile services.

Another report released by Ofcom on the same day took into account the experiences of smaller businesses, noting much higher levels of satisfaction with both phone and Internet-based products. Over 50 percent of SMEs found it easy to compare the prices of Internet providers, although only 37 percent found it easy to compare quality.

However, it also noted that small businesses (20 percent) are much less likely that their larger counterparts to have switched advanced data service providers in the last three years (55 percent).

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