Fibre Readiness Survey - SME's yet to seize the opportunity

In 2010 a survey on business use of Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) was conducted by TUANZ.  Earlier this year (2015) it was decided to survey the TUANZ membership once again and to invite the Greater East Tamaki Business Association (GETBA) to participate given the length of time UFB had been available in that area.  The survey was conducted online during the month of June 2015.

Over November, each week we will publish a post that covers off a key finding from the survey finishing up with our thoughts on the opportunities that we see arising from the survey results. We have also published the data to the Figure.NZ site and you can see the results here - note that at present that although the graph titles state that it is “TUANZ members”, the results include the GETBA results as well.   If you want to know more of the background and the response rate you can read that on our website here.

This week we look at the uptake amongst SME’s in the survey and conclude that they are yet to seize the opportunities available to them.

In 2010 around 64% of respondents said they already had at least one fibre service. This was not surprising given that fibre optic services had already been deployed in many CBD locations and the majority of respondents were corporates. For clarity on the difference - fibre laid before the UFB initiative was not built as part of an open access network available for all retail service providers to offer services over, and therefore more costly. It was largely made up of a series of bespoke, point-to-point connections from the exchange directly into the corporate office.

Back in 2010, of all respondents asked about their likelihood to connect to UFB within a year of it being available, 82% said they were “likely to”, “highly likely to” or “definitely will” connect. This could only be considered an indicator of future behaviour as no retail costs were provided then.

By 2015 49.5% of all respondents had actually taken up UFB or fibre at their head office or single site. More than 20% of those with UFB or fibre had pre-existing fibre and more than 65% were corporates.  Drilling down, the share of those who had not taken up UFB was 42.3% and of them, 60% were SME.

The message from several studies in recent years, that there are untapped productivity and efficiency gains available to SMEs with a strong internet presence, isn’t yet changing behaviour.  

Cloud applications, remote working and voice-over-IP were the areas most businesses said they would consider investing in to use UFB. This was in line with the feedback in 2010, although collaborative tools ranked more highly then. Improved productivity, remote working and improved video conferencing were the most well known benefits of UFB.

Less than half the total respondents answered questions about the need for further information. Interestingly, the information most sought after was simple, high level and readily available, such as performance guarantees, UFB rollout timeframes, and speeds and bandwidth.

Looking forward, the survey results suggest there remains a strong need for wholesale and retail service providers to improve awareness of UFB availability, especially among SMEs.