ACCI: Broadband offers SMEs limited benefits

Despite the federal government's efforts to increase take-up, broadband Internet offers little at present for Australian small business, claims the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) recently published a broadband guide for small business explaining the technology's business opportunities such as better customer service, but understanding broadband is no longer the problem, says the ACCI.

"The Government has fulfilled one of its roles in providing clear information regarding the hype of broadband, but when you look at what's being offered with broadband there's not a lot for small business," said Tim Reardon, adviser on industry policy at the Canberra Office for E-Commerce of ACCI.

Reardon said while broadband services were great for big business, they weren't a "value proposition" for small business. Small business would not invest in broadband unless there was immediately "something in it for them".

"The main technologies such as datacasting and video conferencing aren't services they're looking for," he said.

"Even bank transactions aren't that slow [for small business] on a 56Kbps modem."

Accordingly, the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission's March report on broadband deployment revealed 44,400 business customers compared with 192,900 residential customers.

However, Annabelle Herd, adviser to Communications Minister Richard Alston, says broadband already provides small businesses with a range of benefits, by reducing the need for multiple lines and modems, saving time, and attracting new business.

"As broadband adoption grows, and new applications evolve which exploit broadband capabilities, the benefits for small businesses are likely to continue to expand," she said.

Sydney-based SME Polaris Consulting principal Geoff De Lacy says after having experienced the benefits of broadband firsthand, he wonders how his company survived on dial-up services.

De Lacy says the executive search company's move to new premises was the catalyst for broadband.

"Initially we had the latest computers and software and two very extensive databases all on dial-up with separate connections. They weren't networked because we believed security was too big a threat, and that was our prime concern with broadband," he said.

"However, once we saw the cost benefits of broadband and installed ADSL, we networked the machines. Now, after 10 or 11 months' use, we've since survived a few big viruses".

De Lacy said one Polaris employee, who had taught statistics at university, calculated the productivity in computer usage had jumped by 47 per cent.

Broadband take-up was inevitable, said Reardon, but as the majority of small businesses were online (79 per cent, according to government sources) and using dial-up, the number of those which would move across to high-speed services was less certain.

Reardon's comments come in the same week as Telstra boosted its broadband appeal to small business by teaming up with network manufacturer Netgear, a strong player in the small business market. Netgear will offer a $60 rebate to customers who sign up for Telstra's BigPond Broadband Cable service.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Steven Deare

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?