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Welsh small.biz urged to get wired

The band is broad - jump in, says e-minister

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E-minister Andrew Davies says more small and medium businesses in Wales need to take advantage of broadband Internet access. Wales will have 96 per cent broadband coverage by 2005 but take-up among smaller businesses is disappointing. Davies said that only six per cent of Welsh SMEs have broadband connections, compared to 10.4 per cent nationally.

Davies said: "We need to find ways to increase this figure and promote the advantages of this new technology."

In separate, but related, news broadband suppliers could do a better job of targeting small and medium businesses across Europe, according to the latest research from Frost and Sullivan.

There are still some barriers - broadband providers lack an understanding of the business issues faced by smaller companies and could improve their marketing.

The survey notes that regional and national governments are increasingly promoting the benefits of broadband services to SMEs.

Selling broadband to SMEs is also an opportunity to bundle and sell other products and services. Subsidies for rural areas mean that all businesses should have a chance to get broadband access. Providers should also be aware that simple provision is an increasinly crowded market place so they need to provide a different service.

Paul Devine, research manager at Frost and Sullivan said: "For effective targeting of and penetration into the SME sector, service providers will have to focus on promotion, channel management, increased availability of applications and means of alleviating end-user concerns,"

Frost and Sullivan talked to most European broadband providers for this survey. The UK business broadband is growing at 100 per cent a year. France will see 90 per cent of SMEs with potential access to DSL by 2005, Germany already has 250,000 SMEs with broadband connections. ®

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