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A recent survey by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau found that over the past 12 months 30% of small businesses have experienced problems with their phone and broadband services leaving them unsatisfied. So we ask, is broadband still suitable for business use?

Stephen Barclay, Head of Sales

Stephen Barclay, Head of Sales

Gillian Guy, CEO of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau said “Poor broadband services are costing small firms business…A reliable broadband service is essential for firms to be able to operate.” The research found that almost 25% of small businesses have complained about service problems with 92% of complaints focusing on stability problems or total loss of service.

However, at the end of the day there is only so much that can be done to improve the broadband service for SMEs, after all by its nature broadband is a contended service with no service guarantees or SLAs and its performance is dependent on many factors such as internal wiring, distance from the exchange etc.

That being said, Ofcom have launched their own plans to improve the provision of broadband services for SMEs. Their own data showed more positive results, stating that 85% of SMEs believe they are well served by the UK market but there are still issues and Ofcom hopes its new plan will make high quality digital communications more accessible to SMEs.

The plan hopes to promote the availability of superfast access and find ways to bridge any coverage gaps; evaluate the choice and availability for SMEs in the UK market; re-evaluate its General Conditions to ensure SMEs are protected if things go wrong; support businesses in rural areas; provide a ‘contract checklist’ for SMEs to help them identify what to look out for when signing new communications contracts; provide a new portal to provide further advice and guidance; and continue further research which will be published later this year.

So, if business users are experiencing so many problems, is broadband still the best choice of connectivity for them or should they be considering other options such as Ethernet?

When should business users move to Ethernet?

Like most things in life this comes down to cost vs need! If a truly reliable and always available connectivity service is critical to your customer’s business then perhaps it’s time to look at other types of connectivity that provide dedicated and guaranteed access, such as Ethernet.

With the continued roll out and increased availability of lower cost solutions such as EFM and GEA, SMEs have other options that may better suit their needs and potentially their budget. As their connectivity provider, this presents you with valuable opportunities that will not only increase your monthly revenues but also help you to effectively solve a customer’s business headaches helping to build trust between you.

Our helpful eBook – The Connectivity Scale – describes the various options available and where they fit into the market.

Still a market for Business Broadband!

However, despite its potential issues for some business users, broadband is still a viable option for a large proportion of businesses and the market for business broadband is still buoyant, especially with the emergence of fibre broadband which can help to deliver faster speeds and facilitate more effective communications.

Even with the lower cost Ethernet options these can still be too expensive for some businesses and if connectivity isn’t critical to their operations then a broadband based service will most likely still be the best solution for them.

What is most important is that a customer’s expectations are set before they order their connectivity service and any limitations are clearly explained to them. For example, if they are in a very remote location then it should be explained to them that a broadband service’s performance may suffer and speeds are likely to be compromised. By doing so from the start, ISPs can avoid unnecessary complaints and ensure they provide a service that is fit for purpose and meets the customer’s needs and budget effectively. We continue to see high levels of demand for business broadband services.

Have your say!

What do you think? Do you think broadband is still suitable for business users or are you seeing more and more customers moving to Ethernet? Do you think setting realistic expectations is important from the start? Have your say and share your experiences by leaving us a comment below.

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