The "Broadband Barometer 2006" report, released by Pacific Internet and gathered by the research firm GfK Marketing Services, shows that 90% of Australia’s small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) — companies with five to 199 employees — now use broadband Internet connections.

"With 98% of all SMBs connected to the Internet, and 90% broadband users," said Dennis Muscat of Pacific Internet Australia, "broadband has become a commodity technology for SMBs in Australia."

Broadband growth has been driven by an increase in xDSL connections (up from 62% of SMBs in 2005 to 71% in 2006) and wireless (doubling from 6% of SMBs in 2005 to 12% this year).

Conversely, dial-up connections, used by 20% of Australian SMBs last year, are now used by only 6% of SMBs.

Partially due to the increase in broadband connectivity, the research also found that Australian SMBs are beginning to migrate to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). While in 2005 only 1% of them used VoIP, this year that percentage jumped to 19%.

"VoIP is already becoming a force with SMBs," said Mr. Muscat, "and that will have a negative impact on traditional telcos’ fixed voice revenues."

Pacific Internet estimates that SMBs using VoIP may have saved up to $600 million in voice charges over the last 12 months.

Even so, many Australian SMBs are still ignorant of VoIP, with 35% saying they have not heard of it and 7% saying they are not sure how it applies to their business.

More here.