Small business won't fall for cheaper broadband

By Nadia Cameron, Australian PC World |  Small Business

Just 6 percent of businesses surveyed were using VoIP, with a total of 17 percent intending to use VoIP within the next 12 months. Public wireless Internet hotspot access fared slightly better, with 9 percent of survey respondents claiming to currently use the technology and 15 percent planning to use it in 12 months time.

Telecommuting, however, had become a popular topic for discussion with small businesses, Muscat said. Of those surveyed, 35 percent said they used broadband for telecommuting or remote access. Another 10 percent said they intended to use these services within the next six to 12 months.

In contrast, 17 percent of businesses surveyed in June 2003 were using their broadband connection for telecommuting or remote access. A further 17 percent said they planned to introduce these services in the future.

Small business concerns with excess broadband usage and download charges has fallen since the first Barometer report in June 2003. Twenty-six percent said they had concerns about download usage in the latest report, a 7 percent improvement on the 33 percent in June 2003.

The impact of Telstra's $29.95 ADSL retail plan featuring 200M bytes of download usage per month might prove a cause for concern for retail users, but Muscat said he was confident small businesses would read the fine print and sign up to services which matched their download needs.

Volumes of data downloaded by small businesses in the January report remained fairly consistent since the first Barometer report. The majority (22 percent) use less than 500M bytes per month (down from 26 percent in June 2003). The next most popular download usage bracket is 500M to 1000M bytes per month (21 percent), followed by 1G to 2G bytes per month (19 percent).

While small businesses might not necessarily be swayed to broadband at the lower $29.95 ADSL price point, the new ADSL and cable plans had already stimulated residential demand, Telstra said.

Since the announcement of its new retail prices 10 days ago, the rate of new retail applications had jumped by 85 percent compared to last month, the telco said.

It has also announced it will drop its wholesale ADSL prices in a bid to appease its wholesale customers and cooperate with the ACCC.

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