BT's delays in delivering 24-hour unmetered ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) services is hampering the uptake of 'web-centric' applications by smaller companies, according to online services provider PlusNet.
ADSL technology allows for a permanent unmetered connection to the internet over an ordinary BT line. Voice calls can also be received over the line while the internet connection is live. ADSL will initially offer speeds of up to 10 times those of a 56K modem.
However, BT has experienced problems trailing the new technology, which was originally scheduled to be ready in June but is now likely to reach customers in late August or September. The initial rollout will also be limited to only a few exchanges around the country that have been equipped with special ADSL technology.
PlusNet believes the ongoing delays are preventing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from developing ecommerce opportunities. "Once people have 'always-on' connections they will use online services more readily," said Dean Sadler, PlusNet's director of future technologies.
"Without that kind of unconfined internet access SMEs will not be inclined to move from PC-centric applications, like Microsoft Office, to web-centric applications, where all their data is kept securely on the network at a service provider and they can access that data from anywhere in the world," he added.
Once small businesses have always-on high-speed connections they will be able to access online services to assist the running of their business, and do away with the need to buy a series of software applications, such as accounts packages, databases and spreadsheets.
"It will dramatically change the way SMEs perceive the internet," said Sadler. "Currently they're worried about phone bills, but when they've got that off their mind they'll discover cost-savings through such things as accessing services and support over the internet. For instance, all the functionality you get in Outlook - calendar, email, contacts list - will be offered by us online."
Application services will be available through websites run by application service providers (ASPs), such as PlusNet. Businesses will rent out applications as they use them, and the ASPs will store all of a firm's valuable data. This will do away with the need for costly back-up and security on your premises.
ASPs will also be able to offer services, such as staff wage runs, which are altered each month or year in line with constantly evolving government regulations or budget considerations.
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