How BT and O2 can cut IT infrastructure costs

About 270,000 new small businesses start in the UK every year. For most of those businesses, getting an IT infrastructure – phone lines, fast and reliable broadband connections, connection charges, software licences and hardware costs – is a major, but essential, upfront cost.

It’s a cost that many famous start-ups have funded with loans or by maxing out their credit cards. But now BT are offering their own option for financing. BT customers, both those who sign up to any business service and those who have a pre-existing service with the company, can sign up to the ‘KickStart Scheme’.

It’s essentially a loan over a fixed term, at a fixed rate, which can provide up to £15,000 of equipment and services making it easier for customers to budget.

The scheme has a pretty broad definition of what constitutes a small business – they must be trading for under three years – but the companies do have to submit to a credit check in order to qualify and the specific requirements aren’t so clear.

What’s also unclear are the specific interest rates businesses will have to pay out, even with the significant loyalty discount BT is likely to levy for the deal. BT will only give estimates on cost to businesses that make a specific enquiry but it has said in the past that £3,000 worth of broadband and communications equipment would be £20 a month.

That could be the same as a 6% loan over 24 months. Maybe those credit cards aren’t so bad after all. And then there’s always the O2 infrastructure option, which is to just bypass it.

The O2 free workspace on Tottenham Court Road caters for IT for up to 75 people including open workstations that provide access to power and wireless printers for 10 people at a time. There’s a private conference room for up to 10 people and a seminar room for up to 30.

It might not be a long-term solution but it could significantly reduce the IT budget of small businesses as they go from start up to get going.

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Julia Kukiewicz is editor of consumer information site Choose. The site offers market research and debate into the home media and mobile and personal finance industries, as well as covering rights issues for consumers. Follow Choose for more on twitter at @choosenet.