Half of Irish Businesses Still Not Using Fibre Broadband as Copper Switch Off Looms

Research published today by SIRO, the wholesale broadband operator investing more than €1 billion in a future-proofed broadband network across Ireland, has revealed that just over half of all Irish businesses (53%) are still not on a fibre broadband connection. Micro companies are lagging behind most, with approximately half of businesses with less than ten staff (51%) not yet using fibre compared to just under a third (30%) of medium or larger businesses without fibre.

SIRO’s research, undertaken by Amárach Research, surveyed over 270 Irish businesses, ranging from small to large enterprises, on their broadband usage, experience and satisfaction with their connectivity overall. The analysis comes against a backdrop of accelerating fibre broadband rollouts nationally; increased access to full fibre broadband, particularly in towns and cities where a majority of businesses are located; and the fact that the switch-off of outdated copper broadband networks will shortly commence.

Key findings from the research include:

—  Use of fibre broadband: Less than half of businesses surveyed (47%) are currently using a fibre broadband connection.

—  Switching rates: While one third (32%) of businesses have switched to fibre broadband over the last five years, worryingly a similar amount (35%) have not.

—  Differing switching rates between small and bigger businesses: There is a 20% gap in rates of businesses who have switched to fibre broadband depending on business size. More than half of small businesses (51%) are not yet using fibre, compared to 30% of medium or larger businesses who are not.

—  Barriers to switching to fibre broadband: The largest barriers cited by businesses to switching to fibre broadband include perceived cost (26%), fibre not available in their area (22%), lack of awareness on fibre and its benefits (21%), or a belief that it would not make a difference to their business (9%).

—  Importance of broadband: 80% of business respondents believe that broadband plays an important role in their business operation.

—  Fibre broadband performance: Of those businesses which have switched to fibre broadband, the vast majority (86%) found that fibre broadband had met their expectations.
Commenting on the findings, SIRO’s Chief Commercial Officer Ronan Whelan said:

“The landscape of the business broadband market has changed massively over the last five years, with many businesses now able to access fibre broadband. The speeds and quality of fibre broadband monumentally exceeds legacy copper networks; and most importantly fibre broadband for business is priced on a par with the cost of older technologies like copper or cable.

“Despite this, a process of two-speed connectivity and digitisation is occurring amongst Irish business. SIRO’s research shows that while larger businesses are making the switch to fibre broadband, smaller businesses are lagging behind, with knock-on impacts on digital adaption. As a nation of SMEs, employing two-thirds of our workers, with 91% of our businesses employing less than ten employees, high quality fibre connectivity is a critical building block of digital transformation, yet businesses missing the opportunity to secure their future”, noted Mr. Whelan.

“Small businesses currently face a challenging environment, but reliable fibre connectivity can unlock tools which can hugely support their daily operations. This includes technologies to improve workplace productivity, reduce the impact of labour shortages, or to better manage and lower input costs.

“Equally, with the switch off of copper broadband on the way, Government and industry need to do more to encourage Irish businesses not just to make the switch to fibre broadband but to better understand how it can deliver tangible benefits to their bottom line,” concluded Mr. Whelan.