Small firms should look at online tools

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 14:57 25/10/2013

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New Zealand is likely to be among the world's top 10 countries for the availability of fibre-optic broadband by 2020, Chorus says.

But small businesses are not making the most of the broadband that is available today, it says.

Its comments come on the same day that accounting software firm MYOB released a survey that said half of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) did not have any form of online presence.

Chorus market strategy manager Rosalie Nelson said many businesses relied on the advice of their local information technology company. Some businesses still thought of fibre-optic broadband as expensive and had not realised how much the price had dropped.

Chorus said it aimed to release information every six months measuring New Zealand's progress in harnessing broadband.

MYOB's survey suggested 38 per cent of Kiwi businesses had a website. A similar survey six months ago put the proportion at 34 per cent. Eighteen per cent said they were making use of cloud computing, up from 16 per cent.

Business manager James Scollay said MYOB believed a "digital divide" was emerging in the economy.

"What's clear to us from our years of conducting research into SMEs' use of digital technologies is that businesses with an online presence reach more people and become more engaged with their customers," he said.

"It's time for more local business owners and operators to take a closer look at what online tools could do for them."

Nelson said 90 per cent of home phone lines were capable of supporting download speeds of 10 megabits per second or more, up from 27 per cent before Labour's May 2006 market reforms.

But benchmarking data suggested broadband speeds "lagged the world" because of issues such as older and poorer home wiring.

Another consideration was that many consumers were on "legacy" broadband plans based on Chorus' "basic unbundled bitstream access" product, which it wholesaled to internet providers but which offered a lower committed bitrate than its "enhanced UBS" service.

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- BusinessDay

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