Survey finds small business satisfaction with broadband falling

PLUS: Demand for UFB connections is strongest in the areas where the rollout is weakest.   With special feature audio: MYOB boss Tim Reed on why many small businesses are wary of tech upgrades; more.

For more results from the Business Monitor survey, and the trends behind them, click the NBR Radio box to listen to MYOB chief executive Tim Reed.

Satisfaction with internet speed and reliability has slipped from 49% in March to 40% in September, according to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, a regular survey of 1000 small to medium business operators in New Zealand.

Businesses in the Hawke's Bay (41%) and Waikato (40%) are the unhappiest  with their internet access, while the Manuwatu/Wanganui region has the highest level of satisfaction (48%). Rural businesses are also more likely to be unhappy with the speed and reliability of their internet service, with 41% dissatisfied.

UFB roll-out still limited
Fibre can be the cure for poor internet but it is not being adopted by many small businesses. 

While 60% of SME operators believe an Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) connection would have a positive benefit for their business – including 17% who say the benefit would be significant – just 22% of local businesses report having UFB access.

The cost of hooking up to fibre broadband can be small, but MYOB boss Tim Reed says many small businesses are wary of even a modest capital outlay.

Business operators believe the key benefits of UFB access would be to improve their connection (61%) and speed (61%), as well as providing them with better access to data (27%), improved use of cloud computing apps and services (23%) and reduced telecommunications costs (21%).

Most connected cities
The most connected city is Auckland (28%), while Christchurch still remains significantly behind on just 18% (up from 16% in March), according to the Business Monitor survey.

The survey indicates that supply might be out of kilter with demand. 

Figures recently released by Crown Fibre Holdings show that Christchurch is among the major centres where the most fibre has been laid, while the rollout in Auckland is lagging behind. 

Bay of Plenty (27%) has the largest number of businesses using a UFB service in the regions, while the Otago Southland region, the location of Chorus’ Dunedin ‘Gigatown’, has the lowest at just 12%.

Chorus recently conceded that only 2300 homes had connected to gigabit UFB in Dunedin (and 6900 to the UFB overall), but along with the council it has recently kicked off a range of initiatives to boost interest.

Chorus and other UFB companies continue to blame regulatory hassles for multi-month delays with UFB installs for some businesses.

The government recently announced $360 million in top-up funding, which will be used to expand the urban UFB and the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to more areas. Councils are partnering with telcos to scrap for the cash.

For more results from the Business Monitor survey, and the trends behind them, click the NBR Radio box to listen to MYOB chief executive Tim Reed.

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