Maybe, like LSL, I'm looking in all the wrong places but I don't seem to be seeing the usual rash of "Christmas" promotions from the mobile and ISP companies so far and it's well past the usual start dates for such events. I can't make up my mind between the two extremes of:
1) Business is so good there are no needs for promotions
2) Business is so bad there is no money for promotions
With the last 'working week' of 2008 almost upon us I still see no affects from the GFC on our small business. The last week was business as usual in terms of orders for the ten different Exetel services remaining on target with a pleasing well above target intake of business orders for our SHDSL and Ethernet services maintaining the pace of a record November for business services.
So the first half of this financial year will finish around 8% ahead of the quite aggressive target increases we set in May and I'm now in the process of re-revising upwards the targets for the next six months having previously spent the last 3 months agonising over how far to reduce them - and I realise that statement makes me appear to be someone who shouldn't be involved in any sort of planning process. Perhaps it is now well past the time that I should consider that I have some sort of realistic idea about what's going on in the marketplaces that Exetel currently addresses?
Over the past 4 'Decembers' that Exetel has been in business order intakes slighty increase for the first two weeks before falling quite sharply day by day from mid December to the first few days of January before then steeply increasing. This is relatively easy to understand (people start going away for their Christmas holidays/businesses cease making decisions/etc and then start returning after New Year's Day and catching up on all the things they put on hold for the previous three weeks).
I'm not sure what effects Krudd's $A10 billion hither and yon scattering of early Christmas presents will have on mundane things like buying/upgrading Internet services but I'm assuming it will have some, however small. Some of our suppliers, for whatever reasons, are being quite generous at the moment in terms of 'promotional assistance' which will allow us to offer both Powertel/AAPT and Optus ADSL2 services at zero activation costs for a limited time between now and mid January and it will be interesting to see if that 'flattens' the three week dip in incoming ADSL2 orders that would normally be predicted. We will start that tomorrow and watch the results closely.
We will also start the long process of moving our ADSL1 customers away from the Telstra network and onto the ADSL2 networks of AAPT/Powertel and put more effort in to convincing the remaining ADSL1 customers who are not covered by the AAPT/Powertel exchanges to move to Optus ADSL2 services and realize that renting a telephone line from Telstra/whoever isn't really such a good idea in 2009 - in the event it ever was. With some good planning and more than our share of good fortune we should be able to provide some ten thousand of our ADSL1 customers with a Christmas/New Year present of ADSL2 speeds at their current ADSL1 prices without them suffering any downtime at all - at least that's the plan.
It will be interesting to see if the 256/64 users notice much difference? The only issue will be those customers who have very old modems that can't sync at ADSL2 speeds or some sort of Cisco based set up that is 'hard wired' to non ADSL2 speed parameters. It will also be an 'acid' test as to whether AAPT have actually resolved all of the problems that forced us to stop offering their ADSL2 network as a solution for our customers. Powertel were the second supplier to Exetel and we have enjoyed a very good relationship with them up to the time of the AAPT takeover. Since the takeover our relationship deteriorated alarmingly with provisionng and fault resolution processes becoming unusable. Now that one of our long term managers has returned to AAPT (and replaced what, in a tough contest, was the worst "account manager" ever to be given that title in the history of commercial relationships) the problems have been gradually resolved over the past few months and we are relatively convinced that our issues have now been resolved.
Let's hope that's the case.- we will carefully monitor the situation.
We will also burn up some 'promotional dollars' with "an offer you can't refuse" to our Unwired customers who use less than 2 gb of data a month to move to the Exetel/Optus HSPA service. With the roll out of the 7.2 mbps upgrades an HSPA service could be delivering 4 - 12 times the Unwired speeds at 25% less monthly cost. Again something that surprisingly, at least to me, needs considerable 'selling' based on past efforts. We will reach the end of our Unwired, 5 year, contract, in August 2009 and will need to find a suitable solution before then.
So not the wildest of promotional programs even by Exetel's hyper modest standards but more than we have ever done in the past - even though, courtesy of our suppliers, we aren't using our money.
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