This chapter explores the factors impacting small to medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) adoption of broadband. It argues that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are highly differentiated technologies for which there is not necessarily a single adoption model. While most large European companies are connected to broadband, SMEs’ connectivity is lagging behind. The question of why one SME adopts broadband while the other does not is still understudied. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to fill this gap by investigating the technological, organizational, and environmental factors impacting SMEs’ adoption of broadband. This chapter starts by highlighting the importance of ICT innovations adoption in general and broadband in particular. Based on the ICT innovations adoption literature, SMEs’ broadband adoption framework will be developed and empirically validated involving nine SMEs’ key decision makers in the northwest of England. Finally, implications for researchers, practitioners, ICTs’ vendors, and policy makers will be discussed.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Broadband: To qualify as broadband, a service must deliver an “always on” service at rates of more than 128 Kbps (DTI, 2004).
DSL: Digital subscriber line is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary telephone lines.
EDI: Electronic data interchange is structured form of data interchange between businesses.
SMEs: Small and medium-sized enterprises. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) differentiates businesses by the number of employees (micro-firm: 0-9 employees, small firm: 10-49 employees, and medium firm: 50-249 employees).
ICTs: Information and communication technologies. A broad term referring to digital technologies such as information networks and software applications as well as telecommunication technologies such as telephony, cable, and satellite.
ADSL: Asymmetric digital subscriber line. This is the most used form of DSL.
ISP: Internet service provider. A company that provides Internet access services to consumers and businesses.
Enterprise Systems: “Commercial software packages that enable the integration of transaction-oriented data and business processes throughout an organization (and perhaps eventually throughout the entire interorganizational supply chain)” (Markus & Tanis, 2000: 176). The systems include enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), product life-cycle management (PLM) and e-procurement software (Shang & Seddon, 2002).
ASP: Application service provider. A company that offers access to applications over the Internet.
Narrowband: Internet access through a standard modem (dialup speeds can vary between 28.8kbps or 56.6kbps).