Over a third of SME business operators from around the country are unhappy with both access to the internet and the cost of their connection, according to the latest MYOB Digital Nation report.
In the nationwide survey of over 1000 business operators, 38% of SME operators reported dissatisfaction with the cost of their plan, while 33% were dissatisfied with internet access (speed and reliability) with levels of dissatisfaction remaining constant over the year.
Rural SMEs (44%) are much more likely to be dissatisfied with their internet access compared to those in metropolitan areas (27%) while Otago/Southland based operators were more dissatisfied with the cost of their internet plan at 51%, compared to 25% of Waikato based operators, who have the lowest dissatisfaction levels.
MYOB Business Division General Manager, James Scollay says access to the internet is extremely important for modern businesses, especially those operating in more remote areas.
“The internet provides a platform for engagement in both the domestic and the international market – even for the smallest business with a unique product or service to sell and story to tell,” Scollay adds.
“For smaller businesses too, it levels the playing field, enabling them to build awareness, create a depth of customer engagement and connect with new markets.”
UFB connection increasing
One fifth of SME operators (19%) said they were currently connected to UFB, up from 14% in the March Business Monitor, while 72% were not connected to UFB and 8% did not know.
SME business operators were asked what benefits UFB has had or would have on their business.
The main benefits were associated with speed and reliability – improved Internet connection (63%) and better download and upload speeds (62%), but almost a quarter of operators (23%) could see no benefits in UFB.
An increasing proportion of operators saw a number of benefits of UFB however, particularly:
• Improved Internet connection (up from 56% to 63%)
• Reduced costs associated with telecommunications (up from 27% to 33%)
• Better video conferencing (up from 15% to 21%)
• Enabling more people to work remotely (up from 11% to 17%)
• Enabling more e-commerce activity (up from 9% to 14%)
Over half the operators (57%) not currently connected to the UFB believed it would make a positive impact on their business.
“In this survey, we are seeing growing numbers of businesses taking advantage of the benefits of the internet – especially high speed connections,” Scollay adds.
“But there are also factors holding the country back – like access to cheaper, high speed data and connectivity, particularly in our vital rural sectors.”
Scollay believes that becoming one of the world’s most connected nations could make a real difference, not just to business owners and operators, but their employees and communities as well – opening new opportunities, increasing skills and supporting higher productivity and greater returns.
“It would be a tragedy if the growth potential businesses have identified through the use of the internet is stymied by an infrastructure that doesn’t keep pace with the needs of businesses, or expensive plans that price them out of the market,” he adds.