Telecoms customers are looking for a safe pair of hands to steer them through chaos in the markets, according to the Communications Management Association's (CMA) annual survey.
The survey reports that BT is now the key fixed telecoms supplier for 79 per cent of companies, up from 74 per cent last year.
Two-thirds of companies said a strong BT was essential to their communications strategy in the short to medium term. And three-quarters said they wanted a "safe pair of hands" to provide their services.
BT also improved its customer base in internet services. According to the survey 35 per cent of companies rate BT as their main supplier for online services this year, compared to 29 per cent last year.
The number of companies rating WorldCom (UUNet) as their main supplier dropped from 20 to 17 per cent.
Just over half (56 per cent) of companies said they spend most money with BT, unchanged from last year. The CMA said BT had "stopped the rot" in terms of its declining customer share.
Mark Smith, director of operations at the CMA, said: "It appears there has been a move to certainty and continuity and back to BT."
Despite the economic downturn, the survey of 422 IT and telecoms executives found companies are spending more on IT - on average £9.1m this year compared to £7.1 last year.
"Even in these difficult times spending is on the up," said Smith.
Vodafone continues to be the key supplier for mobile (used by 51 per cent of companies, down from 56 per cent last year), but O2 has improved its position, being used by 42 per cent of companies compared to 36 per cent last year.
In terms of what customers look for in a supplier, service quality was rated most important, followed by fault repair and complaint handling.
Price was only the third most important. "Customers are wanting to play safe so it is not surprising that cost comes lower down the list," said Smith.
But no supplier is providing the quality of service that customers are asking for, according to the CMA.
For fixed services suppliers scored an average of 6.4 out of 10, with Colt and WorldCom edging ahead of the pack on seven out of 10.
Mobile services fared only slightly better (an average of 6.8), with Orange scoring best (7.4).
A third of companies said they are already using broadband, while another 40 per cent are implementing or evaluating it.
But 87 per cent of companies said BT has not done enough to speed up broadband roll-out, and 78 per cent of respondents said Oftel has only delivered effective competition in big cities.
The same percentage said government should intervene to make universal access to broadband a reality.
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