Just under a third of UK businesses use a niche ISP for connection, hosting or other services, according to a report from UK regulator Ofcom.
Thirty per cent of UK firms use an internet company which employs a staff of 250 or less, compared with just five percent of consumers.
Ofcom found that the UK market for niche ISPs is made up of approximately 686 service providers.
Of those, 390 offer 'hosting, connections and other services', 224 provide 'hosting and other services', while 72 provide 'connections and other services'.
The study found that 83 per cent of niche ISPs have fewer than 20 employees, equally split between technical and non-technical staff.
The 686 companies claim to serve around 1.9 million business and residential customers, with an estimated turnover of £1.15bn ($2.9bn) per year.
Ofcom said that the niche ISPs it interviewed claimed to offer a higher quality of customer care, and that 54 percent said that this gave them an advantage over larger ISPs.
Of the 279 ISPs providing hosting services, 64 percent offered Linux, 61 percent offered Microsoft and 18 percent used Solaris.
The study was carried out in March and April 2006 and 313 of the 686 niche companies were interviewed.
However, of the 142 respondents who claimed to be a member of an internet industry body, more than 10 percent could not remember its name.
Six per cent of those questioned did not know why they had joined the Internet body of which they were a member.
Third of UK businesses using niche ISPs
By Matt Chapman on Jan 30, 2007 9:43AM