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More UK firms plan broadband upgrade

UK companies want broadband, but nearly half of existing business users think they'd ditch it if prices rose by just 10 percent
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Over a third of businesses with Internet access expect to soon upgrade to a broadband connection, according to new figures from Oftel.

In its latest survey of Internet use, the regulator found that 15 percent of firms thought they were "very likely" to move to broadband and a further 19 percent considering it "fairly likely".

This is in addition to the 19 percent of wired SMEs that had already moved to broadband by February this year, when the survey took place.

Businesses who currently use a pay-as-you-go dial-up connection are most likely to move to broadband soon, with six in 10 expressing an interest.

Insufficient use of the Internet was the main reason given by small businesses for not upgrading to broadband, followed by price. For medium-sized firms, price was only the second-most popular reason for avoiding broadband, behind satisfaction with current surfing speeds.

Oftel also found that only 55 percent of businesses thought they would carry on using broadband if prices rose by 10 percent. A 50 percent rise in broadband prices would see 86 percent of business users move elsewhere -- to ISDN, unmetered or metered dial-up -- or simply stop using the Web.

The regulator cautioned, though, that this kind of research should be treated with caution because it asks people to speculate about their possible future behaviour.

Furhtermore, the research was conducted before BT slashed its wholesale business ADSL prices by some 50 percent. This is expected to give a significant boost to business broadband take-up -- a conclusion backed up by this Oftel report.

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