Businesses in the UK are not only frustrated in their attempts to obtain reliable broadband internet services, but a growing number of those businesses are asserting that they are suffering financially as a result, according to a survey released last week.
Seventy-one percent of those polled believe their own businesses and public service organisations are being adversely affected by the lack of broadband services, according to the yearly survey published by the Communications Management Association (CMA). In comparison, last year 45% of respondents claimed that they wanted to use broadband services and were suffering because they couldn't, the CMA says.
The nonprofit UK communication user association, which claims to represent 2000 corporate users of telecommunication services, has been publishing its communication market survey for the past nine years.
For the 2001 survey, 550 senior communication professionals in both the private and public sectors responded to the CMA poll conducted last July, the CMA says.
The survey results are in complete contrast to claims by British Telecommunications (BT), which has contended for a number of months that the dearth of broadband services in the UK is directly due to a lack of consumer interest.
"Where are the customers for local loop unbundling?" BT asks on its website. "BT Wholesale is ready, willing and able to take any orders for access to BT's local phone lines -- but demand has evaporated," the BT site says.
The UK national telecommunication regulator, the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), in August determined that BT's rivals need access to the local loop, the "last mile" of copper wiring that connects individual businesses and consumers to the network to begin offering competitive broadband services.
In the CMA survey, 89% of those polled want BT to be forced to speed the rollout of broadband services such as ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line ).
"As many as seven in 10 of our larger companies are saying that lack of broadband in the local loop is inhibiting their business. This is almost twice as many as 12 months ago and represents a sorry state of affairs for those of us who, along with government, want to see this country as number one in Europe for e-business infrastructure by 2005. For BT to assert that informed major business customers are wrongly focused on the UK,'s slow progress in local loop unbundling would appear misguided," says CMA chairman John Wright in the report.
UK businesses also appear to be adopting IP (Internet Protocol) networks in large numbers. Of the corporate IT users responding to the poll, 92% saw IP technology as having a central role in their own data communication strategies, while 65% of all respondents claim data traffic has already exceeded voice on their own networks, the CMA says.
On average, the survey found that its members have increased their annual spending on "e-business" in 2001 to £3.7 million per company, up from £3.4 million in 2000, the CMA says.
According to 58% of respondents, businesses are implementing internet-based services due to a need for "achievable cost reductions and improved services," while 51% categorised e-business as "an important tool to respond to competitors," the CMA says.
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed say the main stumbling block in the uptake of e-business was the integration of products and services with existing systems, the CMA says.