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Small business reluctant to switch broadband providers
Monday 02 June 2008 05:23:15 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Easynet Connect, the new SME specialist division of ISP Easynet, have published findings of a survey they conducted in conjunction with Quocirca showing how small and medium sized businesses are becoming more reliant on broadband services over the last few years, but seem unwilling to switch providers when service standards drop. The report asserts that not only is Internet access becoming a critical part of the operations of a modern business, but SMEs are increasing their expectations of their suppliers.

The research shows that 1 in 7 businesses wouldn't be able to manage for more than a day without broadband, and 77% had faced service problems, but only 1 in 10 were considering switching broadband service providers, distinct to consumers who are far more likely to switch if there is a better deal on offer. Two thirds of those questioned confirmed their company had been with the same broadband provider for over five years and only about 10% were considering switching to another supplier. The problem is compounded by the jargon in the industry, making it difficult for non-IT staff to manage the purchasing decisions.

"As more and more businesses regard the internet as the backbone of their day-to-day processes, it is important that they understand that internet connectivity can and should be tailored to fit. Whilst speed and cost have become the buzzwords in the consumer space, businesses owners need to look beyond to added value and support, working closely with a provider that understands their specific needs, as opposed to one that takes a one-size-fits-all approach."

Rob Bamforth (Principal Analyst), Quocirca

Lack of understanding 

The report highlights a lack of understanding within the general business community about the technology and issues with many having a simplistic view of how Internet connectivity works. It suggests only a third of those asked understand the benefits of symmetric vs asymmetric services and the benefits of faster upload speeds. Similarly, users tend to be focused on advertised speeds, not quality of service (although it was a recognised issue), contention of resources, etc.

Critical Infrastructure

In today's connected world, many companies are using the Internet for a key part of their operations from e-commerce, sales and marketing to general communications. The unavailability of even e-mail services alone can disrupt the modern efficient workforce which has learnt to rely on it, not to mention the impact on companies with VoIP platforms. The Quocirca research emphasises this with the statistic that 22% of SMEs stated they couldn't cope without Internet access for more than an hour, rising to 71% when this was raised to 24 hours. The real question managers should ask is, are they taking this into consideration in their provisioning of IT services, risk assessments and contingency planning scenarios. With the increasing tightening of business models, is your broadband provider financially stable to stay in business for the next year?

"..poor service levels and lack of support are currently being tolerated - this should not be the case. SMBs should be as demanding as consumers.."

Chris Stening (Managing Director), Easynet Connect

If you run a small or medium sized business and haven't already asked yourself these questions, it's about time you did.

The full report can be downloaded here.


Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
"making it difficult for non-IT staff to manage the purchasing decisions" - good, you don't want a managerial know-nothing buying anything remotely technical or important.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
EasyNet? Hah. I emailed them twice to try and get a quotation and they ignored me both times. This was despite the fact that I actually work for a large multi-national. I guess they decided that our small, rural office wasn't worth bothering with.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
it would help if there was even an SLA on migration overseen by offcom...whilst ADSL performs fine, the mess that can still happen jumping between ISP's and their differing offerings, coupled with Openreach's less than perfect 'right first time' record.

To that end, when i finally get Be to enable our exchange, we will install a new line, get LLU on and that and then dump the old non LLU line...because although the net isn't critical, it's needed on a day to day basis.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
If you depend on the net you're going to want redundant backup anyway. Probably ISDN because if the exchange ADSL goes down multiple providers won't help (and a leased line is a bit expensive for a SMB).
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
The story is an interesting read, owning a small business myself i completely agree with the second paragraph. Its not a case of businesses are prepared to put up with bad service its more a case of relying on the service you already have is better than hoping a change of ISP goes smooth and you are not going to be offline for day/s. Its only when the service you are currently with becomes totally unacceptable, that a business will move. Even if a change of ISP does go smooth, running around updating login info, DNS info and a whole bunch more is a pain.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
@AndrueC Not that shocked Easynet didnt reply, infact theres very few big or known ISPs out there that bother to respond to just POTENTIAL business customer questions. If you want an ISP to reply to email questions about their service before you join up try the smaller ISPs, in that regard they are alot better people like ukfsn, Idnet, adsl24 and a few others do reply to POTENTIAL customer emails, the larger or more well known ISPs dont seem as bothered.... If you want a reply from them, you best bet is picking up that old device called a telephone.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
Most businesses have a couple of phone lines, so getting a new provider on a spare line and then ceasing the other may provide a smoother switchover in the business world.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
it may do, but managed ISDN systems and BT don't swim well together, and the effect of raking that up as well means that for safety a seperate line is sometimes a better route.
Posted by bosie over 8 years ago
Isn't the real reason more to do with the state of internet generally? It's pretty much same old, same old, and I can think of a quite a few so-called IT managers who know less than the people they claim to serve.
Posted by Sandgrounder over 8 years ago
Excellent comment by Dawn_Falcon.

We could add Cable Broadband as the second service, if available.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
whats businesses dont want more than anything is downtime, changing isp gives you downtime, they also have loyalty to suppliers even if they not the best deal so is a completely different market to the residental market. The only thing I expect will make a business change isp is outages that cause downtime on their current isp, other problems like slow performance I expect they put up with.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Most businesses have a couple of phone lines, so getting a new provider on a spare line and then ceasing the other may provide a smoother switchover in the business world."

Its more the fear something could go wrong in the change over rather than chances it will go wrong andrew... I agree for the most part migration now is pretty smooth but s*ds law says the single mess up will always happen to you.
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