Slow internet lines ‘cost SMEs billions’

The UK cable operator has just launched a high-speed cable modem service and portal for small businesses, called Blueyonder Workwise. Offered in association with business internet service provider CobWeb, it is the first broadband service over phone lines in the UK.

Adam Smith, managing director of Telewest business communications, said: “An always-on email service, for example, doesn’t sound a big step, but for small businesses this can save valuable time and money spent on existing dial-up connections.”

“Small businesses don’t want to just surf the internet, but want to use it to access valuable services such as fast email, business critical information and applications,” he added.

According to Telewest, the average time wasted by a small business employee with a normal dial-up service is over 400 hours a year. It argues that this equates to around £7bn in lost time for small businesses across the UK in waiting for downloads or accessing important information.

The Workwise portal will offer the user business services and applications including finance and account packages for payroll, expenses, stock control and invoicing. The venture said it is also in discussions with Halifax to develop financial products specifically for small businesses.

Telewest claims its service is “Britain’s first small and medium sized business dedicated broadband internet service”.

“We make the claim that this is the first service for small businesses as it is available today. People can sign up to ADSL services but the chances of getting the service are slim. We have around 60,000 small business customers connected to Telewest who can access the broadband service,” said Smith.

However, Workwise will initially only be offered in Scotland and the north east and north west of England, to be followed by other Telewest franchise areas at a later date.

Customers will need to pay a £295 installation fee and a £125 monthly fee for the service.

Last month, NTL announced plans to offer services to the small business marketplace via broadband, and BT currently offers its business customers access to the BTopenworld portal via ADSL technology.

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