- 100,000 broadband users
- Holiday mode
- 100,000 broadband users
I've just had a really interesting conversation with Telecom's public affairs manager, John Goulter.
I asked Goulter to respond to comments made by Australian telco analyst Paul Budde. Budde said for New Zealand to be on par with middling European countries (always a good milestone) we should be aiming not for 100,000 broadband customers by the end of next year but for 1 million. That's just to be on par. Budde says New Zealand and Australia have been woefully behind the rest of the pack and while Australia is starting to catch up, New Zealand is still in the doldrums.
Goulter agreed New Zealand has a long way to go with regards to broadband development, but says really New Zealand is still relatively new to the game. Hang on, says I, Telecom New Zealand rolled out its first DSL connections in 1999, at the same time as South Korea - we're hardly new to it. Goulter pointed out that while that's the case, we only really got serious about a national broadband network this year. Fair enough - having written about broadband for years now I can say that's sadly quite true.
Here's the interesting bit, though - Goulter says Telecom is still intent on reaching its goal of 100,000 broadband customers by the end of next year and will be using internationally recognised definitions of broadband to do it. That means no JetStream Starter customers on their 128kbit/s fast narrowband connections to be included.
By my reckoning, Telecom currently has around 20,000 JetStream customers. In September when the company let slip that 73% of its broadband customers were on JetStream Starter that equated to 13,005 users of either the new 256kbit/s service or the real JetStream service.
Telecom's been doing a lot of advertising around its JetStream 256kbit/s home user service. It's been aggressive in getting the word out, although less so in offering new prices or discounts on anything but installation. Goulter says "watch this space" and while we've heard that before from Telecom, and we're still watching, this time could be the charm.
If Telecom is serious about the broadband market then it can't be seen fudging the numbers on this one. I wish it luck - I'd love to see 100,000 broadband users on Telecom's network alone - if we added in TelstraClear's Paradise.Net customers, Wired Country's fibre, Woosh's wireless, BCL's Extend, CityLink's customers and The Pacific.Net's user base along with all the other providers great and small, we'd actually start to see some competition and synergies of scale and that should mean price reductions. If Telstra can introduce unlimited broadband (even though it's not really unlimited), then so can Telecom.
This is quite an interesting time for Telecom. The telecommunications commissioner is looking at unbundling and is, I would have to say, likely to give it the nod. Telecom will be faced with a choice of either pure belligerence the like of which the world has never seen before (also known as "doing a Telstra"), or rolling up its sleeves, accepting the inevitable and making a fist of this new wholesale regime.
I don't buy the argument that Telecom will no longer invest in the network should unbundling be mandated any more than Woosh or BCL will stop investing. I don't buy the argument that only competition between networks can deliver lower prices. At the moment I'd settle for any kind of competition, thanks all the same.
The next 12 months will be entertaining in the telco market. Broadband is the future, whether they realise that or not in Wellington. Every telco on the planet is building network capacity, trying to find the right price points, selling service dedicated and devoted to broadband. The voice world is gone - it's a dinosaur, lumbering on without realising its head's fallen off. Voice is just another packet on the network from now on and the sooner we all realise that the better.
An indication of what DSL can deliver if we set our minds to it
- Holiday mode
Yes, it's struck I'm afraid. Today is IDG Communications' christmas party and frankly there's no news.
That's right, I said it: there's nothing going on. Nothing to see here, move along. I'm fully into holiday mode and while I type this at my PC in Auckland, emotionally I'm already lying in a hammock on the Coromandel.
There have been too many parties, too many drinks, too many soirees under the hot hot sun and Auckland's too muggy for any work to be done.
Next week is the last FryUp of the year - we'll return on January 16, possibly with a new look and certainly with a well-rested zest for life.