Nearly half of all internet-connected small businesses are connected to broadband, according to a new study commissioned by ISP Pacific Internet.
The quarterly study - in conjunction with ACNielsen.Consult- reports on the status of small business Internet usage and focuses on the uptake of broadband Internet services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia.
The aptly titled, Broadband Barometer, will track the climate of Australian Internet enabled small businesses.
In the quarter ending June 2003, 41 per cent or 206,780 Australian Internet enabled small businesses were connected to broadband.
Small business broadband connections made up 44 per cent of overall broadband connections sold in Australia.
Pacific Internet managing director, Dennis Muscat, said the survey found that many businesses were using home broadband packages. This increased the number of small business connections.
The survey was conducted throughout 1167 Internet enabled small businesses with 50 or less employees.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 655,000 small businesses in Australia, and 77 per cent of them have access to the Internet.
Muscat said that broadband should be universally accessible and affordable, especially in terms of policy making.
“The report suggests that the 77 per cent of small businesses are at saturation point with their Internet options,” he said.
“IT and financial sectors are leading the take-up of broadband technologies, whereas transport and health rely heavily on dial-up.”
Muscat said there were several potential growth opportunities for vendors in these areas.
“It is obvious that if you are running an ISP that you have to focus on these areas,” he said.
In terms of Internet usage, the report suggested that broadband businesses was primarily concerned with preventing viruses and spam, and not overly concerned about censorship and loss of workflow productivity.
Small businesses are retaining dial-up services.
However, Muscat said small businesses use both dial-up and broadband.
“Small businesses are keeping dial-up connections due to concerns over reliability of broadband services,” he said.
Muscat told ARN the major concern of the report was lack of broadband take-up in regional areas. In metropolitan areas, 49 per cent of small businesses had broadband. In regional areas, it was just 18 per cent.
“There is a lack of investment in regional areas,” he said.
Muscat claimed that there was no infrastructure available, and resellers were not expanding into regional Australia because of the high costs involved.
“They simply don’t make any money by expanding out there,” he said.