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Small businesses are shying away from using the Internet because of confusion about the different types of Internet accounts and an "unjustified fear of higher costs". That's just one of the conclusions of a survey published by BT which attempts to explain why 67 per cent of small businesses in Britain are still not hooked up to the Net. Grant Broster, head of BT business Internet services said: "This research sends a clear message to the two thirds of UK small businesses that are not online. Email is a vital, money-saving business tool." The survey, carried out by Revelation Research on behalf of BT, found it is cheaper to send documents by email rather than post, fax or courier, regardless of length of document and whether documents are sent locally in Britain, nationally, or internationally. While this may be true, the research is fundamentally flawed because it was based on the assumption that businesses already had a PC as well as a fax machine and a printer. The BT research took no account of the capital costs of investing in all the necessary hardware, or the running costs of maintaining a system. "The research is based on the price of a telephone call, costs of printing and the labour costs that are entailed in distributing the various documents," said the spokesman. Surely BT wouldn't try to mislead the public again so soon after being outed over its new Net tariffs for ISPs, would it? ®

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