Fear of Upheaval Prevents Businesses Switching Internet Supplier

Confusing jargon, lack of knowledge about technology and fear of upheaval are preventing small firms from getting better broadband services, research suggests.

According to the survey, by Easy Connect (the SME division of Easynet) and IT research firm Quocirca, more than three-quarters of businesses have experienced problems with their Internet connection.

Yet, two-thirds have been with same supplier for more than five years, and just ten per cent are considering switching to another supplier. The report claims that contributing factors include the growing use of confusing jargon in the IT industry and a general lack of understanding about how Internet connectivity works â?? many businesses, for example, focused on speed rather than quality of service.

“Whilst speed and cost have become the buzzwords, businesses owners need to look beyond these to added value and support,” said Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca. “They need to work closely with a provider that understands their specific needs, as opposed to one that takes a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The report also highlights that small firms fear the loss of working time if they were to change broadband provider. One in five firms felt they could not cope without Internet access for more than an hour, and one in seven said they would not be able to manage for more than a day.

“This survey reveals that the Internet is now at the heart of making a business a success, but poor service levels and lack of support are currently being tolerated – this should not be the case,” said Easynet Connect managing director Chris Stening.

“They should be as demanding as consumers in ensuring that they are getting the right kind of service, coupled with reliability, so that they are able to focus their attention on their business.”

Communications watchdog Ofcom does not currently produce specific guidelines for the small business sector, and there are no requirements for Internet service providers to offer customers help with understanding the technology

However, a spokesperson for the regulator said that all Ofcom regulations that are in place apply equally to consumers and small businesses, including the stipulation that new broadband connections have to be up and running within two days.

Small firms looking to switch provider or make complaints about levels of service should refer to the Ofcom consumer advice website.

© BHP Information Solutions 2008

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