The latest Business ICT Survey (prepared by Red C) was published by ComReg on 25 June 2013 (ComReg Document 13/61). The survey is based on 500 interviews among a representative sample of telecom decision makers in SME companies.

The survey suggests that although progress has been made in serving the SME market, there is still room for improvement and growth potential. Given the important part that SMEs have in assisting Ireland on its road to economic recovery, it would be disappointing to see this hampered by a lack of offering / take-up in this area.

The specific objectives of the research were to assess: service ownership, service provider, satisfaction and switching within the (a) landline; (b) mobile phone; (c) mobile broadband; and (d) fixed broadband markets. Respondent companies were grouped into the following six sectors (i) agri/mining/construction/manufacturing/wholesale; (ii) retail; (iii) services; (iv) other services, transport/utilities; (v) government, education, health; (vi) financial service/legal.

Some key trends emerging from the research show:

  • Landline and fixed broadband are the most common access services used and provided to employees in Irish SME business. 80% of SMEs surveyed have a broadband connection.
  • Just over half of businesses surveyed (52%) provide their employees with devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablet computers, or 3G data cards/dongles; the research shows that the most popular devices are smartphones and laptops and that those using these devices have become more reliant on them over the past 12 months.
  • Over half of the businesses surveyed (66%) use Eircom as their provider for fixed line services (particularly those in rural areas); although 25% of business surveyed indicated that they are likely to switch landline provider in the next year, with price (particularly prices of international calls) a key motivation for any switching in the market.
  • Just over half of business surveyed (52%) bundle their telecommunications services, showing that there is still growth in this sector of the market.
  • Although only half of business surveyed (50%) were aware of their actual download speeds, the survey shows that many businesses are keen to get better broadband speeds, and that they would be willing to pay more for enhanced services.
  • Unmanaged VoIP services (eg, Skype or similar) remain the most commonly used VoIP services (48%) although managed VoIP is making inroads (22%).
  • As regards business mobile, Vodafone and O2 are seen as the main suppliers of the business mobile market; contract (ie, post-paid) services are the prevalence in this market with pre-pay accounting for only 11%.
  • Satisfaction in the business mobile broadband market (led by Vodafone) is considered low (56%); respondents identified network coverage and reliability and speed of service as the core issues for operators to address.

The Business ICT Suvery follows the earlier Consumer ICT Survey, dated April 2013.