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Woman with phone to ear staring at a comuter screen looking worried
96% of small businesses had experienced at least one issue with their telecommunications services, according to a recent ACCAN survey of 100 small businesses. This is a concerning figure, as many small businesses rely heavily on these services to keep their businesses operational.  Profits and productivity are lost when services don’t deliver.

The top issues were internet speeds; internet congestion during peak times; costs; and outages. Slow internet speed was the most prevalent issue with 73% of respondents reporting this problem.

Many respondents reported multiple issues. 48% said they experienced both slow speeds and congestion at peak times. Almost one quarter of respondents said they had experienced all four of the top issues.

The small businesses surveyed were from a range of sectors including: agriculture; professional services; education and training; retail; and others.

Resolving issues

84% of respondents said that they contacted their provider regarding a problem and 64% said that issues were difficult to resolve. Comments from the survey revealed: difficulty getting getting resolutions to infrastructure problems; commitment of resources by Telcos to fixing issues; and the frustration felt generally about getting resolutions.

It’s really important that small businesses raise issues with their service providers even though this is time consuming. They should document all the problems as well as any losses or costs incurred.  Where possible they should provide supporting evidence. If they’re unable to resolve the complaint with their provider, they should raise it with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).  Read our tip sheet on how to make an effective complaint for more useful tips.

What needs to improve?
We spoke recently to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell about small business experience with telecommunications services. She told us that the number one small business telecommunications issue is accessing services. Ms Carnell outlined that small businesses need providers to be responsive to problems so that issues are resolved quickly.

When services are unavailable or not working properly, they can be a barrier to small businesses, essentially cutting them off from interacting in the global digital economy. Barriers such as unreliable performance and connections were reflected in the survey results.

As highlighted in ACCAN’s 2015 small business research, the results of the survey support a need for providers to offer plans that are flexible and reliable and which include service guarantees for quick fault rectification when things go wrong.

Infographic depicting the key findings of the survey - particularly data speed, congestion, costs and outages