Spiceworks, the marketplace that connects the IT industry, announced the 2019 State of Corporate Connectivity study examining the evolution and usage of internet services and providers in organizations across the United States and the United Kingdom. The study shows telecommunications providers continue to diversify their offerings beyond voice and data services while simultaneously investing in transformative technologies like 5G. In fact, the study revealed 32 percent of businesses have plans to purchase new, 5G-enabled devices after service becomes available in their area.
Among businesses with 5G purchase plans, 55 percent intend to purchase new 5G-enabled devices within a year of availability with smartphones set to lead the movement. Eighty-three percent of businesses intend to buy new 5G-enabled smartphones, 44 percent plan to purchase 5G-capable modems, and 42 percent plan to buy 5G-enabled tablets. Additionally, 7 percent plan to purchase IoT devices built to leverage 5G.
"New 5G service can allow ISPs to extend their reach and offer high-speed broadband service to new cities and neighborhoods without having to incur last-mile expenses associated with physically connecting homes and businesses," said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. "As a result, 5G will likely spark more competition among ISPs, ultimately benefiting businesses within 5G coverage zones."
Internet connectivity today: New, high-speed options have largely replaced older technologies
Among internet connectivity solutions available to businesses today, fiber is now the most common connectivity option used by 82 percent of organizations at headquarters. Less than half of businesses are using cable broadband (47 percent), while less than 20 percent are using wireless broadband, DSL, and T1/T3. Even fewer businesses are using satellite, ISDN, or dial-up.
When examining use of ISPs, the study found small U.S. businesses with less than 100 employees are most likely to use Comcast as their internet provider at headquarters, while mid-size businesses with 100 to 999 employees are most likely to use Spectrum, and enterprises with at least 1,000 employees are most likely to use AT&T. However, the findings indicate there aren't major differences in how each provider is perceived by current users across various attributes, such as offering a reliable connection, fast speeds, or minimal latency.
"The lack of differentiation in the brand perceptions suggests businesses view each provider as relatively interchangeable," said Tsai. "However, there are opportunities for ISPs to stand out from the competition by embracing emerging technologies like 5G and offering additional IT services beyond internet connectivity."
Beyond internet connectivity: Additional ISP offerings could help differentiate the market
Most businesses surveyed are considering or planning to purchase one or more additional service through their ISP beyond just internet connectivity. The top services businesses are purchasing through their ISP include VoIP (43 percent), VPN/MPLS (30 percent), mobile data (19 percent), unified communications (18 percent), and SD-WAN (11 percent). Looking toward the future, adoption of SD-WAN technology offered by ISPs has the potential to double. An additional 11 percent of businesses are considering purchasing SD-WAN technology through their ISP.
Enterprises are even more likely to purchase additional services through their ISPs. For example, compared to small businesses, enterprises are twice as likely to purchase VPN/MPLS, mobile data, and unified communications. They're also three times more likely than small businesses to use an ISP for mobile device management, data storage, and network planning services.