Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.
In my last blog I seem to have ignited some passionate debate around whether ISPs should continue broadband infrastructure build-outs or just leverage what they already have to push the limits of data allowances – now approaching the terabyte mark. Let’s get the debate back to basics and worry less about comparing apples with oranges, or any other fruit.
The point of my argument was not to compare what the ISPs are capable of, but rather how they could focus on expansion into the supposed underserved “regional” areas.
If there is huge demand for broadband in regional areas then you would expect the retail ISPs to more aggressively attack that market.
Why not canvas a regional suburb as much as trumpet terabyte data allowances? The gap in the marketing direction among ISPs is staggering.
And no, I didn’t come down in the last shower. Obviously it requires less capex to leverage existing infrastructure than to expand the network, but that was not what I was arguing.
Of all the babbling on ISPs are doing about terabyte and “unlimited” data allowances I can’t help but wonder if their marketing efforts might be better directed to areas that are presently underserved.
In response to the blog an anonymous reader wrote:
“This doesn't even take into account the suburbs within 15km of Adelaide that still cannot get ADSL2+. I am sure that you would agree, that does not constitute as regional Australia.”
That’s exactly my point. If you lived within 15Km of a capital city would you rather have ADSL2+ with a moderate download allowance or no ADSL2+ at all?
If you couldn’t get broadband at all, the prospect of 1TB of data per month would be the least of your concern. Meanwhile people 15Km away in the city are bombarded with massive data allowance marketing.
Call it “regional” or not, I just wish the ISPs would go after the underserved markets with as much fervour as trying to please their existing install base. I know it’s always easier to up sell existing customers than bring in new ones, but in theory it should also be easy to sell bottled water to thirsty cyclists.
As for costs, keep in mind that cost is only one factor in choosing an ISP. Many people wrongly assume because an ISP can’t match Telstra’s wholesale prices it is immediately “priced out of the game”.
Things like technical support, value added services and reliability all feature in the ISP selection process.
Moreover, people in regional areas are more likely to appreciate good service levels as they have less options. Stories of poor phone service from the major ISPs are legendary so I won’t harp on about that now.
In summary, my gripe is the continuing – and ever more gaping – disparity between what ISPs are prepared to offer in metropolitan areas compared to the regions.
And before someone comments “the NBN is set to change all that” I know that too. What will be interesting to see is the number of RSPs (NBN parlance for ISP) prepared to do business outside the cities.
Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is email@example.com. Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.