The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hit back at Ofcom after one of its independent advisory panels published a report hinting that SMEs are slow to adopt IT.
A report by the Ofcom Consumer Panel entitled Consumers and the communications market: where we are now,found that less than half of SMEs have internet access and less than one-fifth have broadband connection.
In a letter to the Ofcom Consumer Panel, Peter Scargill, the FSB's IT chairman, argued that the report focused on firms in only four sectors and therefore its questions on SME use of 3G and WiFi, produced "a skewed picture" of SMEs.
"The report painted a bleak picture of small firms fumbling in the dark when it comes to IT," Scargill said. "The reality is that the internet is changing the way that small firms communicate. The big issue is not mobile connectivity but access to reliable, user-friendly IT."
The Ofcom Consumer Panel said the report surveyed 300 businesses with between one and 10 employees. A Panel representative said: "We would welcome dialogue with the FSB. We feel our priorities are the same, and we agree IT should be user-friendly. We're not trying to paint a bleak picture but want to make sure that our concerns are addressed by industry."
Shaune Parsons, managing director of VAR Computer World Wales, said: "The FSB is right. If you're going to do a survey then do it across a broad range of sectors. 3G has not taken off yet, while wireless technology is useful to SMEs, but not if you're a one-man band. We're selling a lot of wireless products now into the SME market."
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