Small Businesses- Keep The Internet Reliable

Jonathan Zuck Washington – Small business owners overwhelmingly consider their website domain name a good value for the money and place greater value on ensuring a higher-performing Internet than lower domain name prices, according to a new national poll sponsored by the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT).

Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll just after the Board of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Number) approved a settlement and new registry agreement with VeriSign. The poll is particularly compelling because it focuses on micro-businesses, that are highly-sensitive to increased costs of doing business. More than half of the businesses surveyed had 3 or fewer employees and 87 percent had 10 or less. One of the most common criticisms of the settlement is that it allows annual domain name fees to increase by a total of $1.86 over the next six years. Moreover, domain name costs are less than two-tenths of one percent of the costs to host a small business e-commerce website.

“This survey underscores that even the smallest businesses consider it more important that the Internet remain fast, secure and reliable than whether their annual domain name cost increases by 40 or 50 cents,” said ACT president Jonathan Zuck. “The real concern for “Mom and Pop” businesses that rely on websites for communications and e-commerce is the reliability and availability of the Internet.”

According to the survey of 300 small business owners conducted March 3-6:

  • 95 percent of small business owners considered their domain name a good value for the money.

  • A substantial majority, 62 percent, also said they would prefer having a more reliable and better performing Internet to keeping the cost of domain name prices low. The percentages are even higher for businesses that rely heavily on the internet for e-commerce and communications, where 70 percent of respondents were more concerned about reliability.

  • Eighty-four percent said that a less reliable Internet with slower speeds and periodic outages would have a negative impact on their business – including 56 percent who said it would have a major negative impact.

“Too many people have been trying to speak for small business, so we decided it was time for someone to speak ‘to’ small business on this issue,” said Zuck. “Representing more than 3000 small IT firms from around the world, ACT is particularly concerned with creating an environment where small businesses can innovate and grow. This poll demonstrates that this settlement rather than harming the Internet will likely improve it. It's clear that ICANN reached an accord with VeriSign which is in its own best interests and the interests of its real constituents: domain name registrants."

The businesses polled are micro enterprises. Besides the vast majority having less than 10 employees, 79 percent earn annual revenues of less than $1 million.

Among these companies, half said they use their domain name to conduct e-commerce or for their email. More than half also said they use the Internet to pay or send invoices (53 percent) and to use business software programs to manage operations (51 percent). Ninety-three percent said they email to communicate with customers and business associates.

The businesses cover the spectrum of commerce. Twenty-four percent are in the retail business, 18 percent in the service/hospitality business and ten percent in finance/real estate commercial. The rest were divided among many commercial interests, including health care, manufacturing, marketing, consulting and construction.

The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) is an international education and advocacy group for the technology industry. Focusing on the interests of small and mid-size entrepreneurial technology companies, ACT advocates for a “Healthy Tech Environment” that promotes innovation, competition and investment. ACT has been active on issues such as intellectual property, international trade, e-commerce, privacy, internet policy and antitrust. ACT represents more than 3000 software developers, systems integrators, IT consulting and training firms, and e-businesses from around the world.

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