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Wireless Technologies Crucial to Nearly Two-Thirds of Small Business Owners

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Wireless technologies are becoming increasingly crucial to survival for today's small businesses, who are wanting to stay competitive and connected while gaining flexibility and time away from the office, according to a national survey recently conducted by USA based AT&T.

In fact, nearly two-thirds (65%) of small businesses surveyed said they could not survive - or it would be a major challenge to survive - without wireless technology. This is up dramatically from a similar 2007 AT&T survey in which only about four in 10 (42%) of small businesses said they would have difficulty surviving without wireless technologies.

Despite the economic recession, very few small businesses have cut back on their use of wireless technology. Even businesses that reduced or maintained their overall technology budget from 2008 - nearly 80 percent of small businesses surveyed - have not cut back on their use of wireless technologies and expect to rely more on wireless technology over the next two years, indicating its growing importance among small businesses.

"Wireless technology is a critical business tool that allows mobile workers to stay in touch with colleagues and customers, and to access company data on the move," said Timothy Doherty, associate research analyst for SMB Mobility, IDC. "Reliance on wireless technology will only increase, as growing adoption of mobile business applications among small businesses drives the need for fast, reliable connectivity."

The AT&T survey further found that small businesses appear to be cautiously responding to a turnaround in the economy. About two-thirds (65%) of businesses plan on spending more or about the same on technology overall, including wireless solutions, in 2010 as they did in 2009.

The growing dependence on wireless technologies is likely to continue to increase going forward, as about three-fourths (74%) of survey respondents said they expect to depend on it even more two years from now. In addition, more than three times as many small businesses today strongly agree that wireless technology is key to keeping them competitive - 49 percent vs. 16 percent in 2007.

"In the current economic environment, small businesses are stretched more than ever before, so they're demanding wireless technology solutions from providers like AT&T who understand their needs," said Ebrahim Keshavarz, vice president of Small Business Product Management. "The good news is that they have more and better options today for staying connected - smartphones, Wi-Fi hotspots, laptop data cards or other technologies - whether they're meeting with customers, partners or colleagues while away from the office or simply staying in touch with their place of business while on the road."

Regional Variations

Not surprisingly, depending on where they're located, small businesses have varying opinions on the importance and use of wireless technology. Based on responses to three components - perceived importance of wireless, use of wireless technology and attitude on the impact of wireless technology - a Wireless Quotient, or "WiQ," was calculated for each of 10 markets surveyed. Each component was weighted in the rankings. For example, use of wireless technology was viewed as more important than the perceived importance of that technology.

Rankings for the 10 markets follow:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Dallas
  4. San Francisco
  5. Kansas City
  6. San Diego
  7. Nashville
  8. Chicago
  9. Detroit
  10. Connecticut

"Small businesses that understand the value of wireless technologies and are able to maximize the benefits they offer can create competitive advantage in the marketplace," said Jeff Kagan, an independent wireless and telecom industry analyst. "While the concept of WiQ may not completely define which businesses succeed and those that don't, it can serve as a 'barometer' of the potential impact on the bottom line."

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