Users want bandwidth, but stay shy of costs

The ability to send large amounts of data quickly is something many companies are interested in, but they're wary of the cost. That's the finding of the Computerworld 1000 Survey, in which we polled 500 of New Zealand's leading companies. Of the 314 respondents, 58% are "likely" to use ISDN in the next 12 months. ATM fares less well, with only 18% in the "high" or "very high" likelihood brackets, 33% claiming neutrality and 36% choosing "very low" certainty.

The ability to send large amounts of data quickly is something many companies are interested in, but they’re wary of the cost. That’s the finding of the Computerworld 1000 Survey, in which we polled 500 of New Zealand’s leading companies.

Of the 314 respondents, 58% are “likely” to use ISDN in the next 12 months. ATM fares less well, with only 18% in the “high” or “very high” likelihood brackets, 33% claiming neutrality and 36% choosing “very low” certainty.

Massey University is running an ISDN network and also trialling Telecom’s ATM network. “We run an ISDN private network for video-conferencing and as a backup for the primary network, and we’re running ATM as an experiment,” says Gerrit Bahlman, head of Massey’s computing services.

Rather than choose one system over the other on price, Bahlman says potential users should first assess their own needs, then choose the system best suited to them. “Like all technologies they have an appropriate use.”

But, he says, cost is an important factor. It is the reason why some technologies aren’t being picked up by mainstream businesses.

For Massey, one of the biggest uses of ATM will be large-scale data communication, including video-conferencing.

That’s something Tower Financial Advisory Services technical manager David Wilson would also dearly love to see become a viable reality. Wilson sees customer-oriented businesses such as his being well suited to video-conferencing. “It would be nice to be with a client, ring up the financial planning bureau expert and have him explain things face to face with the client.”

Unfortunately, Wilson doesn’t see it taking off in the next year. He puts most of the blame on poor quality and high price.

Wilson believes video-conferencing will drive ISDN’s acceptance, but only when the quality improves beyond the current “stop-frame movement”.

Interestingly, ATM isn’t a term that Wilson sees a lot of. “ATM hasn’t flashed across my desk from the experts that give me advice.”

Vita is a New Zealand manufacturing company that has been looking at both ATM and ISDN. “We’re just about to jump into frame relay,” says MIS manager Paul Coyle. He says Vita was looking at ISDN “as a backup” but the cost involved was too great. Coyle wants to connect three processing plants with about 50 users.

“At the moment it’s mostly just data with a bit of office information going up and down, but we’ve got quite a lot of digital camera work being developed,” says Coyle. If frame relay works out for Vita, Coyle hopes to move up to an ATM network.

As Tower’s Wilson says: “It’s one of those things — I know it’s going to be there. We just have to wait for the technology to be there. That’s what I’m waiting for.”

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