It’s a gas?

It’s a gas?

Christian Nellemann
XLN’s founder and managing director, Christian Nellemann

A recent survey has revealed that business broadband is more important than gas or water to UK SMEs. That may be the case or not but when broadband is mentioned in the same breath as mainstream commodities like gas or water then suppliers know they are going to face a differentiation problem!

We’re talking business broadband; the kind that you should be able to rely upon to keep that business going whether that be for voice and or data communications.

The last 12 months has seen a number of new product variants come to market as well as progress on bundled DSL offerings and a splutter of next generation access (NGA).

Meanwhile a new survey conducted by business telecom and broadband specialist XLN Telecom says that broadband internet access is more important to the UK’s SME sector than gas and water supply.

When asked to rate which services are essential to the running of their company, 77% cited telephone, followed closely by electricity (76%), then business broadband (67%), water (39%) and gas (19%). In response to the issue of whether broadband is critical to the running of their organisation, 76% of SME owners stated that it was an essential tool for them.


The value of broadband to UK small businesses has increased dramatically over the past decade; 61% said that it was important 2 years ago and 42% stated it was critical 5 years ago, compared to only 11% who felt access to the internet was a core requirement 10 years ago.

However, despite the clear business case for broadband, 37% of respondents were unsure of the broadband speed provided by their current supplier.

In terms of how business broadband is used, email tops the list, used by 91%, followed by online banking (62%), conducting research (61%), general administration (42%), external customer relations (25%), VoIP (10%) and training (9%).

XLN’s founder and managing director, Christian Nellemann, commented, “A decade ago, SMEs were very much at the end of the broadband trail but, as the results of our survey show, this has changed dramatically. Today, the vast majority of companies of this size simply cannot function without business broadband, and decision makers have a right to call for packages suited to their organisation in terms of scale, service and cost.”


Adding Value?

So if broadband is that important to running a business how can suppliers add value when more than a third of users don’t even know what speed their circuits deliver?

This in itself is a delicate issue for the broadband suppliers as they have come under scrutiny in recent months by various groups including industry regulator Ofcom for promoting headline speeds rather than typical speeds. So far only Virgin Media, mostly a consumer-based supplier, seems to have broken ranks and decided to publish typical speeds each month.

If speed and reliability are the key issues for business then Carl Churchill, Managing Director of Daisy Wholesale, sees the general availability of Ethernet as being significant in the access market.

“Ethernet will open up the opportunity for users to deploy more and more applications either cloud-based or intra-company networking applications. The market for, and availability of, cloud-based and managed services is accelerating and demand for robust, reliable connectivity needs to be sated with the right products.

“Whilst this year has seen Ethernet providers endure the pain of reduced pricing and perhaps fewer resources as the result of the recession with which to provision the service, Ethernet heralds a new era of applications uptake and FTTC and Ethernet in the first mile (EFM) does bring carriers the benefits of reduced long haul over fibre and the likelihood of fewer support issues.

“For businesses, Ethernet will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Users will be able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using cloud computing technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within firms and between them and their customers.”

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