Report shows broadband surging among SMBs

Broadband's dramatic increased uptake in medium businesses was the most remarkable aspect of this year's Sensis e-business report, according to its author Christena Singh.

The tenth annual Sensis e-business report launched in Canberra on Tuesday, surveyed 1800 SMEs from metropolitan and major regional area across Australia. It also surveyed 1500 Australians over a variety of gender, location and age demographics. All results are weighted according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recommendations.

"Last year 55 percent of medium businesses (20 to 200 employees) with Internet access were still using dial-up modems," Singh said.

"That number has dropped significantly this year to only 16 percent, so we can see a big shift in medium enterprise embracing broadband."

Dial-up is still a popular from of access for smaller businesses employing fewer than 20 people, with 40 percent using it over other forms.

The report found that 81 percent of medium businesses and 47 percent of small businesses had a Web site. A further 14 percent of small and 10 percent of medium businesses planned to get a Web site in the next 12 months.

Of the businesses with Web sites, 62 percent said the site increased their business effectiveness, citing the main reason as generating increased enquiries.

Overall, the report said, there was a general softening of online purchases but a growth in online selling.

Businesses using the Internet for placing their own orders fell from 56 percent last year to 53 percent this year, yet businesses taking orders online grew from 39 percent last year to 41 percent this year.

The main barrier to SMEs adopting e-commerce is still a concern about security and hacking with a concern about a lack of experience or knowledge in computers and technology coming in second.

The report also noted that 17 percent of all SMEs surveyed were involved in the production of information and communication technology goods or services.

As for Sensis' own e-business plans, a spokesperson said the company plans to introduce online transaction facilities to its Trading Post site within the next 12 months, but she could not go into details.

When asked about whether the Sensis white pages database will be sold along with the sale of Telstra, the spokesperson said that was a matter for Telstra to discuss.

A spokesman for Telstra sought to defuse any question of how Sensis databases may be affected saying that "if the government goes ahead with the full sale of Telstra, the Telstra of today would be, in terms of its assets, the same as the Telstra of tomorrow, except there would be a change in shareholding."

Asked whether the Telco anticipated any further regulation over access to the Sensis database content, the spokesman said that remained a matter for the government to decide.

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