SMB broadband hits critical mass

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SMB broadband hits critical mass

SMBs are embracing high speed Internet services, with around 90 percent of SMB business (5 to 199 employees) now using a broadband connection, according to Pacific Internet survey.

SMBs are embracing high speed Internet services, with around 90 percent of SMB business (5 to 199 employees) now using a broadband connection, according to Pacific Internet survey.

The ISPs 2006 Broadband Barometer, compiled by research firm GfK Marketing, found SMB broadband use rose from 70 percent in 2005 to 92 percent in 2006.

SMBs are also latching onto VoIP, with 19 percent using some form of the technology this year, up from 1 percent in 2005, said Dennis Muscat (pictured), managing director, Pacific Internet Australia.

The study found a majority of VoIP users (56 percent) have entry-level tools like Skype and Yahoo VoIP, although a minority has implemented VoIP into telephone switches.

Muscat said the Barometer also showed some SMBs have deployed specialist IP telephony equipment.

However, many SMBs still don't understand VoIP, with 35 percent “saying they haven’t heard of it and a further 7 percent saying they’re not sure how it applies to their business”.

A key theme running through the research is SMBs’ sense of vulnerability about their ICT installations.

Around 36 percent fear viruses and 33 percent fear for the security of organisational data and financial transactions.

Muscat said most SMBs are reacting by relying on protective technologies such as firewalls and virus protection.

Despite the deployment of virus protection, 29 percent of SMBs (equivalent to 70,570 businesses) suffered some downtime due to virus or malicious events during the past 12 months.

“This is a striking statistic,” Muscat said. “While SMBs are taking steps to protect themselves, it is clear they need to find ways to more successfully safeguard their critical businesses infrastructure.”

The proportions of SMBs using Internet-based applications have also increased over the past year, with email (100 percent of SMBs), SPAM/virus protection (94 percent) and firewall (92 percent).

SMBs are also embracing teleworking/remote access, with 33 percent now benefiting from the flexible work practices supported by this technology, compared to 13 percent last year.

Pacific Internet said 514 SMBs were surveyed for the Broadband Barometer.
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