Independent telcos meet SME needs better

A new survey has clearly shown that independent telecoms service providers are meeting the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) better, when compared with their national rivals.

An independent survey carried out for the Federation of Communication Services (FCS) has demonstrated the importance of independent telecoms service providers in serving UK SMEs.

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of FCS, showed that 27% of the telco suppliers were independent service providers and resellers demonstrating that they form a significant part of the market.

The responses showed that the qualities most valued by all SMEs in their telecom suppliers were responsiveness, flexibility and being sympathetic to the needs of small businesses; this applies to the whole sample regardless of whether their existing supplier is an independent or national provider. In each of these key areas the independent resellers were more highly rated by their SME customers.

The survey also demonstrated that a high proportion of SMEs (76% of all respondents) are aware of the roll out of fibre networks and nearly two thirds consider the opportunities which the new technology offers to be important to their companies. Increased bandwidth, higher data carrying capacity and higher speed video conferencing were specifically cited as potential benefits.

The survey also revealed that traditional voice services remain very important to this sector. Although 56% of respondents expressed themselves willing to use IP based services, 87% still rate access to traditional voice services as important or very important compared with 34% for VoIP.

A third of the current customers of national providers have attempted to switch to another provider and 62% of those did so successfully. Reasons given for not moving were inertia; “I’ve always been with my current provider” or “it’s too much hassle to move”. Other respondents said that there was only one supplier where they were based or that choice was very limited

CEO of FCS, Jacqui Brookes commented, “This survey demonstrates the importance of resellers in serving the UK business community. We call on Ofcom and BT to note these findings as they formulate plans for the regulation and roll out of fibre and the services which will be provided over the new networks.

“In particular, it is essential that the market is provided with services for both voice and data which are suitable for the independent service providers and resellers who are so important to the SME end user sector.”