The results of SME Survey 2005, released earlier this month, are said to confirm that ADSL is becoming the preferred Internet access method for SMEs across the country.

The findings, based on research conducted amongst 6,059 local SME decision-makers, revealed that Pretoria leads the way in ADSL usage, with 37% of businesses using this form of connectivity, followed by Cape Town at 33% and Johannesburg at 27%. The lowest level of ADSL usage was found among businesses in the Free State, with only 6% reporting making use of an ADSL connection. This may be attributed to the low levels of ADSL service availability in the province.

The survey findings furthermore reveal that dial-up connections are used by SMEs in less urbanised areas in provinces such as the North-West Province (35%), KwaZulu-Natal (35%), the Free State (34%) and the Southern Cape (34%). The national average is 24%. Greater Johannesburg ranks the lowest in terms of dial-up usage at 16%.

André Joubert, GM of M-Web Business, says that the survey's results in relation to connectivity confirm the enormous potential that broadband opens up for SMEs. This relates to the finding that 53% of SMEs using ADSL regard themselves as highly competitive.

"An always-on, high-speed Internet connection at a fixed cost provides a much more pleasant user experience, enabling the smaller business to take advantage of the numerous benefits that the Internet and its related applications offers," he adds.

There has been a significant leap in ADSL usage amongst SMEs across all sectors, which confirms that this form of connectivity is fast becoming the preferred connectivity option for SMEs. Some of the most dramatic sector results include:

* Advertising and marketing up from 15% to 30%;
* Communication and broadcasting up from 5% to 27%;
* Construction up from 7% to 27%;
* Hotels and accommodation up from 0% to 24%;
* IT Software and services up from 14% to 36%.