Monday 22 January 2018

SMEs ring changes as market takes mobile shift

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

THE vast majority of small Irish companies still rely on a fixed landline – but a small and growing percentage are now opting to do business using a mobile alone.

New research from telecoms regulator ComReg says that 86pc of all small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) use and provide landlines for staff.

Since it is doubtful that the remaining 14pc have no access to a phone, a small section of employees clearly rely on mobiles. This trend is not only evident in physical activities such as agribusiness, mining, and construction, but also in the professional services sector.

Professional services, including law and accounting, boast the highest rates of smartphone ownership and mobile broadband access, meaning it is the most 'mobile' sector of all.

When it comes to phones for personal use, reliance on mobiles alone is much higher. Just over a third of the general public opt for a mobile alone. Eircom is the dominant player in the landline market, followed by Vodafone.

Eircom has a particularly strong share in rural areas but is also dominant in urban locations. Both companies come off well in ComReg's research, given that more than three-quarters of those surveyed said they were happy with their landline service.

SMEs listed value for money for international calls, calls to mobiles and bundle packages as the most important factors for customer satisfaction.

When it came to picking a provider, price was the key motivator. Two-thirds said competitive price was the most important factor and a fifth said that simply being approached by a company was enough to sway them.

Vodafone is also one of the biggest providers in the business mobile phone market, alongside O2, whose market share has just been boosted after its takeover by Three.

Mobile services enjoy slightly lower satisfaction among SMEs but the majority have been with the same mobile provider longer than they have with their landline.

Urban businesses were slightly more content with their mobile service than those based in rural areas.

People were most dissatisfied with bill costs, the lengths of contracts and internet coverage.

The vast majority of mobiles used by business people were found to have internet capability (80pc), meaning one in five still relied on a more traditional model of phone.

Less than one in 10 were paid for using a pay-as-you-go package, 92pc were on a contract.

Though mobile companies are regularly criticised for bill costs, only one in three of those surveyed said they had ever been charged more than expected.

When this did occur, it was in the context of exceeding minutes in a package or roaming charges.

Irish Independent

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