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AT&T Survey Finds That 42 Percent of Small Business Owners Would Have Difficulty Surviving without Wireless Technologies

Connecting to Customers Via Mobile Phones, PDAs and PC Data Cards Gives Small Business Owners Flexibility On the Go

Wireless devices are indispensable for today’s small business owners, who rely heavily on wireless technology to stay connected to their business and customers while gaining flexibility and time away from the office, according to a survey conducted by AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

Currently, four in 10 (42 percent) of small business owners surveyed said they could not survive — or it would be a major challenge to survive — without wireless technology. This trend will likely increase because more than half (51 percent) of the respondents said they rely on wireless technology more today than two years ago, and more (55 percent) said they expect to depend on it even more two years from now.

“Wireless technology is a critical tool that allows small business owners to stay in touch with customers, suppliers and staff while on the go,” said Carrie MacGillivray, senior analyst, Mobile Enterprise Network Services, IDC. “It is not surprising that small businesses indicate that wireless communications capabilities play a critical role in business success.”

The increased demands of a personal life and owning a small business mirrors the concurrent growth in small business owners’ reliance on wireless technology. Of the 41 percent of respondents who said they were very likely to conduct business while away from the office, more than half (53 percent) said the success of their business depends on wireless technologies, such as mobile phones, PDAs and PC data cards. Additionally, half (49 percent) said they are optimistic about wireless technology giving their business a competitive advantage while only 16 percent of those polled disagreed with that statement.

“Small businesses are more nimble and flexible than ever before, and they need telecommunications solutions built for them by people who understand their needs,” said John Regan, vice president of Small Business, AT&T. “Today’s small business owners have more choices than ever for wireless handsets, Wi-Fi access points, smartphones and other technologies that help keep them connected even when they’re away from the office — whether that’s traveling to meet with customers or staying connected with their business while away from the office.”

Not surprisingly, different regions vary 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 the 10 participating markets.

Businesses in Atlanta, San Diego Rank Highest in ‘Wireless Quotient’ or ‘WiQ’
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. The rankings for the 10 market areas are:

  1. Atlanta
  2. San Diego
  3. Dallas
  4. Charlotte
  5. Detroit
  6. Bay Area
  7. Chicago
  8. Connecticut
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Milwaukee

“The concept of WiQ is very relevant today and has bottom-line impact for businesses,” said Jeff Kagan, wireless and telecom industry analyst. “Business owners who understand the value of wireless are more likely to translate technology into applications that create competitive advantage for them in the marketplace.

“This study confirms that wireless technologies are increasingly important to small businesses, which are using those technologies more now than they did two years ago, and that increased use will continue in the coming years,” said Regan. “This tells us we’re doing the right thing with our fully owned wireless brand to offer small businesses a variety of communications bundles and new technologies built for mobility.”

Study Methodology
The results are based on a telephone survey of 1,000 owners and/or employees responsible for Information Technology (IT) at small businesses in 10 U.S. metropolitan/regional areas. One hundred interviews were completed in each of the 10 markets. The sample of participating companies was drawn from Dunn and Bradstreet’s business list of companies located in each of the 10 areas. Each company was screened to include only those that have between two and 25 employees (full- and part-time). Eight of the 10 metropolitan areas are based on DMAs (Designated Market Areas). The other two markets are the states of Connecticut and Oklahoma. Interviewing was conducted between July 2 and Aug. 10, 2007.

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