Sunday, May 16. 2010
.....is getting more difficult with the 'mists' seeming to be thickening into the first signs of 'fogs'.
I spent some time yesterday thinking about how we get through the next six months or so given that the changes in the ADSL and wireless marketplaces are more likely to intensify than abate. I have been looking at what we could possibly do in the wireless market places since February and each time I get some sort of idea of what is happening...it immediately changes. At the current price offers by the two major carriers are based at $10.00 as far as I can see and our buy pieces are far more than that - not to mention a very high monthly connection fee. I know that the average usage for an Exetel 2 gbyte user is seldom much above 1 gbyte and if you have the size user bases that Telstra and Optus have doubtless that average drops.
We need to increase our wireless broadband user base and we need to do it far more rapidly than we have been able to do that so far. We are beginning to make some progress in the business marketplace and we will continue those efforts and try and make much more of the customer portal we have developed. While we are beginning to get a steady stream of 10 unit sales to businesses we really need a steady and increasing stream of the 50+ unit sales that such a service requires. So we will put more effort into business wireless broadband as it is an integral part of the overall business 'push' and will get easier if we continue to grow the business data service numbers as we are achieving at the moment.
Our problem is with residential wireless broadband and the pricing from the carriers I mentioned before. We were hoping that MoIP would be a big impetus in increasing our wireless broadband sales (particularly now we have an iPhone MoIP app on the Apple AppStore and that may well prove to be the case over time but it isn't helping us much at the moment. We have talked through the opportunities of offering a 'free' wireless service with new ADSL applications but even the most optimistic estimates cannot make a profit out of such an offer - at least not at our buy prices. So it needs yet more thought and some sort of inspiration which I appear to be very short of at the moment.
The problems of finding effective strategies for wireless broadband seem almost trivial compared to finding even one effective strategy for ADSL - at least for me. We did realise last year that the ways we had offered ADSL for the first six years of our existence had to change but we have struggled to find new approaches that will produce the sort of results we need to achieve over the next 6 - 9 months. It will take some real inspiration and a lot of application to find sensible ways forward from here and, so far, those ways , or even one way, have completely eluded us. I don't imagine its any easier for any other provider of our sort of size and, perhaps, it isn't any easier for any provider irrespective of their size - Telstra's well publicized problems illustrate one aspect of how long held pricing/plan policies finally run out of puff. So - a lot of work to be done in a very short time.
One area where all our plans and 'strategies' don't seem to need any changes (and I realise that's a foolish statement just begging for severe punishment) is our business data services which after a record April are booming in the first two weeks of May with record weekly orders in both weeks and ever growing well qualified prospect lists. We continue to slowly add new sales people (we now have 14 with the first 12 graduating from their trainee period well within the planed time) and will keep adding sales people as fast as we can find 'recruits' that meet our very demanding selection criteria. This is one constraint I hadn't anticipated but it is a reality and one we need to address before it becomes a serious hindrance.
So I didn't make any progress yesterday and will give myself a rest from those activities today and start again tomorrow.
PS: Latest 'independent view of the 'NBN2':
Saturday, May 15. 2010
.........particularly, when it has had as hard a life as mine.
I don't know what came over me yesterday but in the middle of our monthly board meeting presentations from the various heads of departments I felt the need to ask our Financial Controller to make a note to contact Dell to see what might be able to be done in supplying note books (with built in wireless broadband sim slots) in the upcoming financial year. The topics we were talking about at the time bore no relation to that subject, or anything related to to it, and the words were out of my mouth before I was really aware I was verbalising them. Old age and too many martinis, single malts and mature (and far too many immature) reds has clearly taken an even greater toll that I had thought.
The very last thing that Exetel needs now is to start offering hardware - it's as ludicrous an idea as Exetel rolling out a DSLAM network. I have no idea why such a possibility entered my head but I am assuming it was caused by the wide ranging thinking we are trying to apply to next year's business plan and to deal with the issues involved in dealing with today's ADSL marketplaces. Either that or something more serious. In any event I thought about 'hardware' for most of yesterday - not notebooks as I realise that is actually not even a vague possibility for Exetel. I didn't have any even vaguely useful thoughts but it did remind me that it's never sensible to go down any commercial path that has been 'well trodden' by previous entities - which reminded me, if I needed any reminding, that ADSL has reached the end of the line for Exetel in terms of us being able to innovate or even strongly differentiate.
It would be really good if the likely future of fibre availability for residential users was even a little clearer than it is today - but, at least to me, it isn't clear at all. The Coalitions ever stronger statements that if they win the next election (unlikely but becoming more possible) they will cancel the NBN (except for Tasmania) is sensible and I have always agreed that the 'gubmant' is a pointless participant in commercial life in any country. However, from purely Exetel's selfish point of view, it would be better for the 'gubmant' to continue trying to compete with Telstra on fibre delivery to allow some competition in keeping fibre prices lower than they would be if there was only one network - I know, ruin the country financially for the benefit of one insignificant commercial entity - pretty unreasonable.
But it is the key issue to the next year and the one after that in terms of residential data services. Our micro experience over the last four days of how interested people will be in fibre, even at Telstra's prices, is a lot higher than I would have thought even at my most optimistic level of expectations. Based on the size of the target market place, our efforts over six plus years in offering ADSL and what we have seen so far we would acquire treble or quadruple our ADSL market share in a few weeks! Of course, what has happened over the past four days is NOT indicative of what will happen in fibre take up elsewhere but it IS interesting. What will be very useful, as a guide, is whether or not, and if we do - how quickly, we reach the number of ADSL customers we had in Point Cook. It won't be directly comparable in that there is no Optus or TPG to compete with and the other claimed participants (iinet, Internode, Dodo) don't seem to be at all organised with no facility on their respective web sites to place orders (TW told us that Exetel were the only participant placing fibre wholesale orders) - but it will be interesting to see how Exetel's "radical" plan structures go against the might of Telstra's marketing efforts when we are the only offers to the market - that's a new luxury for us.
So the fibre opportunities are going to sway, in some considerable ways, what happens in the ADSL market places over the coming two years and those decisions in turn depend on no change in government and what comes to pass from the 'NBN2Co' and Telstra 'discussions' and any subsequent legal actions. With only six weeks to go until the start of the new financial year it seems quite likely that none of that information will be known. So no hard ware aspirations for Exetel but a very big 'conundrum' in terms of what fibre services may or may not turn out to be over the coming year.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Friday, May 14. 2010
......towards the end of my first year as a trainee with IBM....the company announced that it was (due to anti-trust pressure) "unbundling" its core opsys and related software products from its hardware products. This 'strange announcement was incredible enough to me (a trainee whose knowledge of business was zero) but the follow on statement that IBM planned for software products to grow over the (then) coming five years from 3% in the first year to 20% of total revenues over the coming period - I forget the actual period time frame. To me, a laughably ridiculous plan as who on Earth would want to buy software if someone charged for it? Of course my total ignorance of both the acumen of IBM in dealing with the US Attorney General's Department and their then legendary sales and marketing skills were the reasons that the change had been made and then the change was then used to make it work in IBM's favour - as always at that time.
So I read this earlier today:
with a mixed feeling of wry amusement of how absolutely wet behind the ears I once was (if software now accounted for 30% of IBM's revenues they have built a $US30 billion software business since I heard the announcement that started the process) and a reminder that even the 'oldest' companies with entrenched 'go to market' policies, practices and processes can make quite dramatic strategic changes and not only survive but can become whatever they wish to be; at least that can be done if your company possesses IBM's analysis and marketing skills and a superbly trained sales force and sales management group. We don't have either of those resources at the moment but, hopefully, we are well on the way to having the first and it's only a matter of time before we develop the second.
I thought it was an auspice as we start the really hard and detailed analysis and planning work for the new financial year which will be based on a similar 'sea change' by accelerating the processes put in place over the past twelve months from moving our revenue from being largely based on residential ADSL to being largely based on Business Ethernet and other services - particularly VoIP and other elements of 'converged communications' with residential services increasingly being provided via wireless and fibre networks depending on the progress of each of those technology deployments in Australia by the different network builders; and how their wars between themselves eventually work out.
Of course the immense difficulties any company faces in moving its commercial endeavours dramatically cannot be underestimated - we face an immensely difficult set of tasks and an immensely challenging time frame. However, as with IBM's implacable imperative, in their case the US AG's department, we face the implacable imperative of the saturated ADSL marketplace and very, very tough competitive pressures that increase in difficulty each month and change bewilderingly within similar time frames. So, some interesting and 'testing' times are upon us and, one feather in the wind indication, there was a time yesterday morning that new fibre applications were running at 25% of total ADSL/Fibre applications. Given that the total available fibre marketplace represented less than one tenth of a percent of the available ADSL market place this was a remarkable 'micro statistic'. Of course, over the balance of the day it quickly diminished but, as I said, a feather in the wind indicating the change of direction that may well happen over the coming year.
Whether Exetel has the management skills and resources to bring about such a fundamental change in such a relatively short time span is difficult to assess. It's a very complex, and very difficult to even analyse, set of tasks to determine how and where you can start to accomplish such significant changes and I have serious doubts about my own abilities and skills to effectively contribute to such a set of processes. However, there is no other alternative and that is a sound enough basis to begin to plan changes - when you have no alternative.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Thursday, May 13. 2010
.....and what an interesting future it may turn out to be.
Having received our first applications for the Telstra Point Cook fibre services (a small number but more than I expected on the first day seeing we have done no advertising or any other sort of promotion)we discovered that, no big surprise, that the Telstra Lolig extensions didn't work and the orders our automated processes sent through were all rejected. This was remedied by Telstra within 48 hours by Telstra so there was no inconvenience but it seemed to indicate to us that perhaps no other wholesaler had started to process fibre orders with Telstra as yet. Maybe they just hadn't added Exetel's "details" to their data base? ...though that seems unlikely...perhaps other re-sellers just aren't as efficient as Exetel?
So now we have managed to get our early fibre orders accepted with a provisioning time of five working days so our first fibre customers are scheduled to "go live" next Monday. As we progressively get our queries answered on the less clear clauses in the agreement and the 'operations manual' it becomes very clear that Exetel must be Telstra's only wholesale customer to be actually have read those documents because the group of people within TW responsible for dealing with the various aspects of the service seem to be unable to answer the questions directly and several, what I would have thought were basic factual matters are currently unresolved....but it's very early days I suppose.
One thing that was not clear to us, and the contract clauses and 'operations manual' were unclear about was what happens to the customers PSTN connection when the fibre is activated. The current clarification is that the PSTN is 'cut off' when the fibre is activated and the telephone service is then provided over fibre - something that appears to be 'intuitively' wrong but is the situation. How the customer subsequently cancels the telephone service is still unclear nor is it clear whether their PSTn/fibe telephone number is able to be transferred to VoIP. Again, not a big deal and, I suppose, one reason why the current process is being referred to as a 'trial'.
It turns out we have 70 or so ADSL customers whose addresses match the 1,500 or so fibre available residences in Point Cook. We sent those customers emails yesterday advising them of the opportunity of getting fibre instead of ADSL. I will be interested to see what level, if any, take up there is among current Exetel customers. As the Telstra pricing is more expensive than ADSL pricing I don't expect much interest, if any.
Talking of pricing - I was given the fibre pricing being offered by a provider I had never heard of called ISPone and saw that it was 'unlimited' starting at $A70.00 per month for the 8 mbps service. Now I'm pretty sure that a company that I've never heard of isn't going to be getting much better pricing from Telstra Wholesale than Exetel does (though, of course, I can't be certain of that) but assuming the pricing is similar to that given to Exetel then the fibre offer by this company are far from sensible and gives some indication that the fibre marketplaces may become as pointless as the current ADSL marketplaces if such companies survive for very long or offer such pricing for very long if they do in fact survive. So we checked on the other providers listed in the Telstra press release as offering fibre services in Point Cook but Dodo said they had no details and both Internode and
So it's "back to the future" as far as fibre is concerned - that is to say - new services/old and discredited pricing practices based on 'copying' the opposition and bringing no new or even sensible offers using the new, more 'exciting', technology with no discernible advantages for the vast majority of users. Sped, sure, but right now how does any user benefit from that? I can't see any benefit for the vast majority of users right now and without a price advantage fibre in Point Cook offers only the novelty of an increased download speed and, I'm assured because of the prevalence of rims in the district, speed may be an attraction in itself as the majority/all can only get 3 mbps at the most.
Exetel has done as much as it can to make a faster service available at as good a price as is possible for us based on what we have to pay for the monthly port cost. Telstra has helped the cost equation by making the activation free. As I said, the acid test will be whether how many/any of the current Exetel ADSL customers in Point Cook decide to move from their ADSL connections to the new faster fibre connections. As Exetel's percentage of ADSL users in Point Cook almost exactly reflects Exetel's National percentage of total users this trial will, at least at the current price points and state of knowledge, be a fairly useful guide to future take of of fibre around Australia. Will that be 100%? I very much doubt it but we have a very interesting coming six months to find out.
In the meantime Telstra is gaining incredibly valuable information from seeing what the take up is by type of plan offered by their competitors compared to themselves - I wish I had access to such precise marketing information.
PS: Interesting figures on Optus HSPA services:
Wednesday, May 12. 2010
The premise behind the old Telstra services was that you could have all the functionality of a high end/very expensive PABX without having to pony up mega dollars for the hardware but simply rent telephone handsets from Telstra that were connected (by PSTN or ISDN lines) to some super high end PABX in some Telstra office somewhere. No hardware on your own premises, no expensive PABX maintenance contracts and ideal for companies with multiple small offices - every line around Australia could make 'internal/no cost' calls to each other's handsets. To go further than that is to over tax my memory of a service I was only peripherally aware of some ten years ago. But that sums up the 'appeal' of hosted PABX services which are re-appearing today...a very early example of "cloud computing"?
Is it a good idea? I wouldn't have thought so as I have never seen any problems with replacing an ISDN/PSTN PABX with a much simpler VoIP switch which has all the functionality of a high end PABX at a tenth of the price and has the added advantage of allowing data base integration with all the huge amount of additional functionality that brings - we literally couldn't operate Exetel today without those dozens of additional automated functions. However I am absolutely not a typical person in terms of looking at technology solutions for a company and the more typical person is apparently reluctant to take the views I hold.
So we 'decided' yesterday to explore two options for our own customers who wanted to take a very cautious approach to using VoIP within their company. We will 'slice off' a sub set of our own VoIP functionalities and offer a 'hosted' VoIP solution to companies that want the cost advantages of VoIP call costs plus the functionality of a high end PABX with no 'exposure' to the failure of VoIP hardware and Ethernet data links. This is easily and simply accomplished by the customer buying some Cisco handsets which they plug into their LAN and making and receiving calls over those hand sets. They leave their current PABX/Keystation and current handsets in place (and keep paying for their PSTN/ISDN lines until they are satisfied that VoIP really is reliable and and data links are as reliable as telephone lines and there is no need to incur the expenses of renting lines any more.
If I think back 4 - 5 years when we were deciding to replace our 'traditional' PABX and phone lines with VoIP this cautious approach might well have appealed to me. This approach allows an IT manager to buy a single handset to test the functionality and demonstrate the call quality to other people within the company without disturbing any current user....and then add additional users in any time frame required. It allows, via MoIP, for any mobile user to become part of the company telephone network from anywhere in Australia and any home based employees to do the same.
Maybe this is THE way of breaking through the reluctance of Australian companies to use VoIP?
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Tuesday, May 11. 2010
....because it is hard enough understanding what just happened let alone predicting what might happen in the future.
Each year at this time we begin to do the overall planning for the coming year. It has become so ingrained in my working years that I seldom even acknowledge to myself that it's time to start the process. This year has had so many changes, from our viewpoint, that beginning a process that has an horizon of 14 months away appears to be an impossible task. I will have some help this year in a much younger and keener mind to do the number crunching - something I have never had access to in the past and which will, hopefully, not only make the process less onerous for me but will produce a better result and more easily deal with the chaos that surrounds some aspects of the residential broadband market at the moment.
It seems a little strange to me that as we begin planning the 7th full year of Exetel's commercial 'life' so many aspects of our business have changed. When we began Exetel we only had one 'product' and some ambitious objectives and, of course, no customers. As the last few years have gone by we have grown to having ten significant 'products' and well over 100,000 customers and operations in two countries - a considerable set of differences. Irrespective of the changes over the past six plus years, Exetel is still operated as a 'small' company with the owners/directors still spending considerable amounts of their time talking to and listening to Exetel's customers on a one to one basis - something few companies do in 2010 and, I would hazard a guess, none of Exetel's "size". As I was told earlier this morning in an email from someone I greatly respect - that is a negative and we should stop doing it.
Be that as it may the facts remain that we need to put together a business plan with an horizon that, I at least, am unable to see as far as. Of course, business plans in essence are simply some 24 month forward looking spread sheets with a few pages of text outlining the major directions to be pursued month by month and some 'facts' to support the reasons for those directions. One of those directions is to determine how ADSL residential markets will move and change over the next 14 months. Since 'Day One' of Exetel's existence almost every thing we have done has been based around building and nurturing an ADSL residential customer base because our basic reason for entering that market was to provide the lowest cost ADSL broadband service at a level of reliability and speed equivalent to the 'best' Australian providers.
For the first time in our Exetel business planning Residential ADSL will not be the centre piece of our thinking. We have never made money out of residential ADSL - breaking even in most years but over the last 12 months losing an increasing amount of money as the Residential ADSL broadband market places first slowed and then began to actually shrink as customer coverage reached saturation and then wireless broadband began to 'eat into' the lower usage customers. The current ADSL offers from a range of large providers to the residential marketplaces have now reached levels where they must, irrespective of the size of the companies, lose money no matter how the 'numbers' are crunched. From what I can see at this time, based on our current offerings, a forward projection shows that we will lose a steadily increasing amount of money each month through FY2011 on supplying residential ADSL. No realistic person can look at such a scenario and not do something different. What we will need to do about residential ADSL is not clear to me other than to plan to have less residential customers each month as we move forward.
We did begin the process of changing Exetel's emphasis from residential to business customers some 16 months ago and, almost certainly, we now need to speed up the building of an effective 'business product set' and also much more rapidly build the number of corporate customers we have. This in itself is a very, very difficult task and one that, even having 16 months experience since February 2009 looks no easier now than it did 18 months ago when we first decided to do it. However, that is what planning periods are all about - finding different ways to address the now known issues and establishing some factual basis for assessing the likely changes that will occur, month by month, over the coming twelve months. It really is that simple - though at the moment it doesn't feel as simple as it should.
It seems that this year's planning period will be the most difficult I have ever participated in.
PS: We received the first fibre service order this morning - a land mark in the sense that I still remember the first ADSL1 order we received in January 2004 (by fax) and the excitement of that event.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Monday, May 10. 2010
......in the fibre world.
We will make the fibre services to the 1,800 of residences in Point Cook available for activation today as a 'symbolic' change away from offering ADSL2 as the highest speed residential data services offered to residential users in Australia. The pricing we are able to offer for these services is far from 'breakthrough' but they will give some sort of indication as to whether people are prepared to pay the sort of 'lower' pricing that Telstra believes is suitable for "fibre users". My personal expectations are that Exetel will not sell many of these services as we expect Telstra Retail to 'saturate' the potential buyers with marketing and money.
It will be interesting for us to see what prices Telstra Retail and any other provider that participates in this trial offer. While it is only a trial, and therefore pricing will not be indicative of what may be offered for a wider scale service, it will be an indication of a lot of other data about the 'thinking' of other providers and a sound indication of their relative efficiencies and their 'corporate needs'....only on an indicative basis though and therefore only useful in terms of what pricing is offered in the future via Telstra (if, in fact, there is a Telstra fibre future for wholesale services) and other fibre offerers....if the current government allows anyone else to offer fibre/other services in Australia in the future.
I watched the Conroy interview on Channel 2 yesterday morning before heading off to our small family's Mothers Day 'celebrations'. He was his usual mixture of bewilderment, ignorance and barely concealed thuggery but I was amused at his reference to Exetel (not by name). When being questioned on the 'affordability' of the 'NBN2' to customers he made a reference to its affordability by citing the price that Exetel will be charging in Tasmania for 'NBN2' end user services. While I'm grateful for the 'free plug' (though how many Tasmanians in the fibred areas actually watch an ABC political segment on TV on a Sunday morning would be questionable) I thought it was an obvious example of "straw clutching" if it wasn't based on appallingly bad briefing which I would doubt because for him to have been aware of any actual pricing would have required some sort of briefing.
Conroy's total disregard for the laws of the country call in to question his ability to be an elected member of parliament, let alone a cabinet minister, and is constantly demonstrated by his, I assume, impromptu thuggish aggression which in yesterday's instance came in the form of boasting that Telstra could never compete with the 'NBN2' because of the "much deeper pockets of the Federal Government" that could sustain whatever losses it took to drive Telstra out of business in fibre competition. I can't remember the exact words as I was being urged to "come on/we'll be late" but the impression was very clear. I wonder if the ACCC had been briefed on this financial strategy?
Anyway - all the talk and bluster that anyone cares to indulge in is becoming irrelevant. Today the acceptance of 'commercial fibre services' gets under way via the 'trial' offers in Point Cook and we'll all be wiser as the days go by from now onwards.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Sunday, May 9. 2010
1 Said ‘Sorry’ several times, for a range of things on behalf of people who were dead and who wouldn't have apologised if they had been alive.
2 Ratified the ‘Kyoto’ protocol, as it was about to expire without a successor.
3 Organised ‘best and brightest summit’ - that sunk without trace
4 Set up ‘fuel watch’, a costly fiasco, quickly totally abandoned.
5 Set up ‘grocery watch’ ,another costly fiasco, also quickly abandoned.
6 Established the Australian Social Inclusion Board. This rarely heard of bureaucracy was set up because "Every Australian should have an opportunity to be a full participant in the life of the nation. Unfortunately, too many Australians remain locked out of the benefits of work, education, community engagement and access to basic services. This social exclusion is a significant barrier to sustained prosperity and restricts Australia's future growth". If there is any evidence to support this argument it wasn't included in the announcement. The Board has been described as a "complete wank, .... the biggest waste of tax dollars imaginable, towards some more Rudd-style feel-goodism". That was in May 2008. It probably did seem a big waste of tax dollars then, but it's been turned into a drop in the ocean by what's happened since.
7 Set up the home insulation program - what a disaster! It was a disaster because Rudd so wanted the Feds to be able to claim the credit, he gave it to his cosseted Dept of Environment. This feel-good department, whose Ministers’ previous experience, was as a lead singer in a rock band; is full of environmental scientists and climate change disciples, with zero experience in dealing with the real world,or in delivering real programs. Four deaths, a Minister demoted, (but not sacked or had his salary reduced), and then $50 million to former ACTU heavy, Greg Combet, to fix it. And, by the way, Combet says that that may not be enough. It should also be noted that the claimed potential environmental benefits - were grossly exaggerated. Rudd said he took full responsibility, but I don't know what that means - he's still PM, he's still drawing his salary and highly favourable superannuation benefits.
8 Set up SIHIP (Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program). This program was initiated by a MoU in September 2007. In July 2009 the ABC (hardly a hot-bed of opposition to the ALP) reported on its Lateline program that it was yet to build a single house. That was despite $45.54 million of its $672 million budget having been spent. A government report dated August 2009, said the program was being criticized as - too slow to deliver; its governance was overly bureaucratic; and the program is too costly in terms of unit cost of housing and administration. The revised program budget is still $672m with each new house expected to cost $450,000 or $529,000 after factoring in a proportion of administration costs and "contingencies". As at 1st February 2010, 2 of a targeted 750 houses, and 70 of 2,500 refurbishments, have been completed. Gross incompetence - no other words for it!
9 Sent money direct to taxpayers and non-taxpayers to spend on large screen imported TV's, to stimulate the economy and avoid the effects of what Rudd and Swan called- “the worst depression since the 1930’s”. In fact, unemployment was 11% in 1991 and in 2009 it didn't get to 6%, which not too many years ago would have been regarded as virtually full employment. Remember Beattie's target - 5%? But if you can't maintain your popularity rating by sending money to voters, what can you do?
10 Promised that every child in every school in Australia would get a computer. This program is moving so slowly that most of the people who were high school students at the time of the promise, will have left school before they see a new computer.
11 Set up the $70m Green Loans mess - people gave up their jobs, paid $3,000 for qualifications and insurance to be trained as assessors, only to find the demand for green loans had been grossly exaggerated, many more assessors were trained than the program envisaged, and there was no work for most of them. The Courier-Mail reported on 2 Feb 2010, that: "The Federal Government predicted up to 200,000 homeowners would take up the loans and only 1,000 have done so ....instead of training 1,500 to 2,000 well-qualified assessors, the Government permitted a blow-out and it is now estimated there will be up to 11,500 well-qualified assessors". The program has now been transferred to Penny Wong's department - that should fix it (sic).
12 Turned a good budget surplus into such a huge debt, that our grandchildren will have so much trouble servicing, that our population will have to increase rapidly to help pay it down. Blamed it all on the GFC, while steadfastly refusing to give a scintilla of credit to Howard and Costello, for leaving them an excellent surplus budget position to work with. Merely said that the previous government had been ‘lucky’ and enjoyed a robust mining boom.
13 Didn't include any major infrastructure in the stimulus package, because the effects would be felt too slowly (except for duplicating school halls and gyms).
14 Set up the home solar hot water initiative, which was abruptly ended three weeks early with eight hours notice. This caused chaos in the industry, and many people that intended to lodge an application, missed out. Peter Garrett blamed a cost blow-out, from the original estimate of $150 million to $750 million a year, for the knee-jerk reaction cut-back. More incompetent budgeting and planning!
15 Disbanded "Work Choices". He had to do this because it was the unions' self-funded campaign against it that got him elected. Replaced it by giving back powers to the unions and re-instating the Industrial Relations Club. Set up Fair Work Australia, with what seems to many - as nothing more than an over-representation of people with union backgrounds. Jobs for the boys!
16 Changed the previous government's immigration laws so successfully (sic), that the exponential blow-out in illegal boat arrivals, has created a need for a lot more accommodation on Christmas Island.
17 Said "the science ‘is in’ on climate change" and claimed the ETS would fix it. Labelled sceptics as deniers, among other derogatory things.
18 Attempted to railroad the ETS through the Senate before Copenhagen, for no other reason than it would have allowed Rudd to strut the world stage. What a fiasco that was, but a delightful result.
19 Went to Copenhagen taking 114 government free-loaders with him (one of the largest of the 190 delegations), at huge cost to the Australian taxpayer and the world environment. I haven't seen any announcement of the cost of the junket (and I doubt that we ever will), but I'm sure that whatever was hoped to be achieved, that at least 100 of the free-loaders were superfluous to even the most fanciful outcome and/or requirements of Rudd and Wong. This has been a monumental blunder, but then even Turnbull has totally misread the Climate Change issue.
20 Refuses to debate the use of nuclear power generation to reduce pollution, because it's against ALP and union policy. So, what’s he saying – that several of the world’s largest economies are fools for employing it? The rest of the world (sensible rational thinkers, that is) must think we are stupid, a backyard full of uranium, but not a nuclear power station in sight.
21 Has opened one of 2,650 promised "trades training centres"; one of 260 promised child care centres in schools and TAFE;and 2 of 31 promised GP Super Clinics.
22 Attracted 752 retired nurses back into the profession using a return-to-work bonus. When they announced this scheme, Labour hoped 7,750 would take up the offer. Who advises this government?
23 Removed Labour's original 2007 election promises from the ALP website. But we remember them, even if they don’t.
24 Promised to take Japan to court on whaling, but now says that will not be until November, which will probably be after the election.Admittedly, this is a ticklish one.
25 Has so far kept the Henry Tax Review secret for political reasons. Last week Rudd was saying it wouldn't be released until after the election. Wiser heads have since made him realise people won't vote for a new tax system when they don't know what's in it. And there must be something nasty in it, either unpalatable to the voters, or inconsistent with ALP policy, either way, you can be sure the Rudd spin doctors would’ve heralded it as another triumph, if it were otherwise. Gutless wonders!
26 Announced he will keep 30% of the state's GST to fund 60% of their hospital costs. The 60% funding will have strings attached. The states have not been given any of the details, just the executive summary, and he expects them to agree to the proposals without knowing what the strings are, or what he might take back with the other hand under the Henry Tax Review. The announcement doesn't explain how it will improve delivery of hospital services, but it will probably add another layer of bureaucracy to the health system. Australia already has 450,000 bureaucrats looking after 290,000 health professionals. The announcement was hurriedly made in March 2010, after it had been pointed out that he had imposed a June 2009 deadline on himself for reform of the hospitals system. Perhaps this explains the lack of details. Refer back to the criticisms of SIHIP above. I think it'll be deja vue all over again. Rudd said if the states block his plan he will take it to a referendum, which of course is just grandstanding.
27. Turned Gillard loose with $16.7 billion to give building contractors, states and bureaucrats a feast, in return for COLA’s and unwanted libraries and gyms – the insulation racket all over again in spades. And to think that this woman is only a heartbeat away from the PM’s chair, perish the thought.(see below)
28 Last week he trotted out five senior ministers to criticise the Senate for being "obstructionist". The 5 were Jenny (SIHIP) Macklin, Penny (ETS) Wong, Lindsay (clean nose) Tanner, Nicola (new hospital system) Roxon, and Greg (Mr Fixit) Combet. I think Rudd is lucky the Senate has been obstructionist, because if it wasn't, he'd have more failures to add to his already (un)impressive list. I noticed that Gillard was too sneaky smart to join this line-up of puppets, and she has also managed not to be associated with too many of the above "achievements" – actually, she is lying very low whilst the ‘schools building fiasco inclusive of criminal activities’ is unfolding.
29 Promised to fix the DFRB and DFRBF for Ex-Service personnel.
30. Constantly says "....I make no apology for...." things he was not asked to apologise for and things that he had no intention of doing as subsequent non action clearly demonstrated.
(Sent to me by a reader)
Saturday, May 8. 2010
.......we had one of our better weeks - which is always a nice event.
I held great fears for our move from Level 9 to Level 25 in the East Tower of the world trade centre in Colombo but the General Manager assisted by volunteer personnel completed that very complex task (and together with engineers in North Sydney) accomplished the very complex tasks associated with moving 50 people and the communications systems they require to do their jobs without incident and on time. It was a great relief to receive the periodic updates during the day saying it was running smoothly and then the final advice that it was fully accomplished.
On a much smaller scale, but just as important, was the completion by AAPT of a second GiGE back haul that provides connectivity between Exetel customers connected to AAPT's ADSL2 ports and Exetel's PoPs to be increased to the required levels as we have run out of capacity on the current single 1 gbps connection (950 mbps out of 1 gbps - but only 950 mbps is usable) and the second circuit has been a problem to get operational in the originally required time frame. This was mainly our fault as we asked for it to be terminated at our North Sydney offices as part of the relocation of one of our rented co-los in the Sydney CBD to the data centre we built when we purchased the 'new' premises in May last year. We began the process of reducing the racks we rented in one of our co-los some months ago and will gradually move those services to our own premises.
The third key 'success' of the week was to finalise the Telstra and NBN fibre wholesale contracts and complete the internal preparation to offer those services (from Monday May 10th in terms of the Telstra Point Cook fibre trial) as well as finalising the 'marketing to promote those services in the various locations. We completed the pricing for the three different supplier's services and built the pricing on our preferred model of PAYG per gb with the base services provided at the carrier cost plus a small margin plus whatever installation cost the carrier charges from time to time....which in some cases is currently zero as they try to develop early interest in user take up. While I, personally, do not think we will sell many fibre services over the coming months I do think it's an essential preparation for the not too distant future when fibre services are much more widely available.
We also completed the upgrade of the Australian network (all bar one circuit) which was a major project in its way adding 1.8 gbps of IP bandwidth in total to each Australian PoP and also adding back haul to each of the PoPs. We have now doubled the network hardware and link capacity of the network in a twelve month period which was a huge expense to us as well as being a significant topological change for which our small engineering team is to be congratulated for completing without very much inconvenience to our customers.
I suppose the icing on the cake, seeing I started with the Wall Street blood bath, was to watch EFTel's share price sink some 30% to an all time low and, at 1.12 cents, get close to the delisting level. The company is effectively worthless with a growing negative asset backing and huge, for its tiny size, short and longer term debt. I understand it's a petty view, and I seldom if ever take pleasure in the misfortunes of others (having had more than my 'share' myself) but I particularly dislike that company for its past actions and I can't forget them. Obviously the people bailing out of their share holding yesterday know something that caused them to take the actions they did which may become more generally known at some future time.
So a very good week for Exetel and a great relief to me personally. It is a good feeling to start the weekend with.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Friday, May 7. 2010
....for the word had passed around...(apologies to ABJ)
...that the price of IP was going through the ground and had joined the wild decline of markets every where.
If you follow the stock markets you will have seen the blood bath on Wall Street overnight which was tracked by the futures index in Australia showing the likelihood of an imminent bloodbath on the ASX this morning. Though, as people are now beginning to report, it might have been a "computer error"! The A$ has tanked and bad debt is rapidly rising in Australia. Definitely a 'bad news on the doorstep' start to the last day of the working week. I read about the rapid increase of households defaulting on non-bank related bills in the SMH yesterday which I suppose shouldn't surprise anyone with so many people buying in to real estate courtesy of the 'first home buyer's grant schemes' fueled by the ultra low interest rates of early last year and similar insanities. Not very difficult to predict that people mortgaged up to the hilt would begin to suffer after 7 interest rate increases over the past nine months (or whatever the actual number is).
We noticed a slight increase in our '1st of the new month' payment defaults but nothing that, of itself, would cause major concern. However I'm pretty sure (no disrespect intended to our ever growing in competence young corporate sales force) that the 'flood' of new business and corporate orders for higher end circuits (20 mbps to 100 mbps) over the past two months at least partially reflects some belt tightening across the board in the commercial sectors of the economy. I am an innately cautious person and, as I begin to reach 'maturity' I tend to have become more rather than less cautious than I once was so maybe I am reading too much in to the various indicators but it seems to me there is every sign of, at least a mild, double dip recession that the 'pundits' have been talking about since they came back from their Christmas 2009 break. It will become obvious sooner rather than later and I have zero credentials in such matters but I would think the 1,000 point plunge in less than an hour in the DOW (before it recovered a little) doesn't suggest that the 'insiders' have very much confidence of economic and financial issues getting better over the coming months.
One 'bell wether' indicator of how times are changing is the new pricing for IP that we were offered yesterday - sub $A40.00. Nice price - though we cannot take advantage of it at the moment having just added another 1.8 gbps over the past two weeks at a much higher price than that (Damn! - should have been more patient). What it does indicate is that there is a 'surplus' of IP bandwidth in Australia at the moment and I find that a bit odd. If you look at the MRTG reports in the user facilities you will find that the bandwidth used by Exetel customers has doubled from around 3 gbps 12 months ago to over 6 gbps at the moment. Exetel's growth over the past 12 months has, compared to previous years, been slower than average for all sorts of reasons including the saturation of the ADSL marketplaces so this growth is more than in any other year of our existence. I have no knowledge at all of other companies growth in IP deployed but I assume it would be along similar lines but in any event it wouldn't be declining. So why is there this obvious 'pressure' on carriers to reduce prices by so much? It was only a little over 12 months ago that Exetel was paying $A175.00 per mbps so, in the event that the pricing we were offered yesterday is a reality, it means the price of commercial IP has fallen by around 80% in a little over 12 months. An unprecedented fall. Along the lines of "I sense a great disturbance in the Force" magnitude.
If you look at the comment in the above article about how its revenue from SX cable dividends is falling it might explain, at least partially, the offer we were made yesterday.
Like so many other things lately - I really don't know what to make of the financial news overnight - nor yesterday's IP offer - one more thing to worry about I suppose.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Thursday, May 6. 2010
.....more doubtful now than at any time since February 2001?
I spent some time looking at future ADSL2 plans yesterday as Telstra seemed to step up it "come home all is forgiven" direct approaches to Exetel's, and I assume other ISP's, ADSL1 customers in country and rural areas and some city areas. As usual their offers are below the wholesale cost they offer Exetel. One long term Exetel customer sent me the offer which in summary was:
ADSL2 including 25 gbytes for $49.95 per month
In rural/country areas there are no other ADSL2 offerings and, without breaching any pricing confidentiality, I can say that this price is lower than TW sells an 8192/384 to Exetel for - excluding the cost of the back haul and the cost of the IP. Now 'city dwellers' wouldn't find such an offer at all exciting but for people who can only get ADSL1 via Telstra (either from Telstra Retail or from a TW wholesale customer) it looks pretty good - particularly if you are a user of an 8192/384 service for which you are paying much more. Certainly I would think this current offer will make it difficult/impossible for any remaining TW ADSL1 wholesale customers to remain viable selling Telstra's ADSL1 services much beyond the end of this calendar year....almost certainly Telstra's direct intention.
So....what to do........it seems to be getting harder and harder.
While we had anticipated 2010 being the most difficult since we started up Exetel it seems to be even more difficult than we had expected - and our expectations were for an extremely tough time. I am becoming convinced that we will have to change our approaches to ADSL over the coming months and either find a radical (new) set of operating plans to maintain our planned level of customers at a realistic level for the next 14 months or find something else to do with our time and money. What those plans may be is completely unclear to me at the moment.
Maybe things will become a little clearer when/if the Telstra/NBNCo 'discussions' reach a conclusion? At the moment Telstra appears to be making every possible effort to 'recover' the customers it has lost over the past twelve months by keeping its pricing at unsustainably high levels.....even a monopoly reaches that point eventually. It seems, at least to me, that Telstra is signalling that it expects to operate in the future without a wholesale business, at least in its current form, and has thrown caution to the winds in making impossible to refuse offers across a broad range of services including ADSL and wireless broadband. While that can only be good for current and future customers of those services it means that companies of Exetel's size have no future in being a TW customer much beyond the end of the next financial year.
This is not a problem of itself - we have never been able to make a profit on reselling Exetel's ADSL1 services and actually look forward to the day when there is a real alternative that we can offer our current ADSL1 residential users. However that is some time in the future right now and it is the right now that we have to deal with. Between now and the end of this month we need to make up our minds on how we address FY2011 and it can't be in any ways related to what we have been doing over the past 6 years. Pity that I have not got any really good ideas on what we should be doing for residential users that would make sense to them and not lose us money. The two seem mutually incompatible to me at the moment.
I do know where I would like to see Exetel being on July 1st 2011 - I see that very, very clearly.
My very real problem is I have not got much clue about how to get there given the current market scenarios.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Wednesday, May 5. 2010
......seems to depend on who you are in most cases in this industry.
When we set up our support, provisioning, accounts query and sales operation in Sri Lanka we set some very, very tough 'standards' to be achieved over time. We planned to move all four of those services over a six month period (from July 2008 through December 2008) and pretty much completed that process on schedule.....hiring 25 people in Colombo to accomplish the transition of these services. We then hired a 'local' General Manager who came from a suitable background and continued to hire additional personnel and, today, we have 50 people in the Colombo office.
In April we achieved our first major residential "support" objective for the first time - answering all support, provisioning and sales calls within 60 seconds of the first ring:
That is quite a remarkable achievement. If you look at the call answer statistics published by iinet/Westnet or Internode (or if you can be bothered doing your own research by calling any other ISP's support numbers) you will almost certainly wait longer than twenty minutes for a response and often more than double or treble that time. So Exetel has achieved something, in terms of "support", that no other ISP in Australia comes close to delivering - the fastest telephone call response times of any data communications provider in Australia. Nice to see and it will be even nicer to see that it is sustained over the coming months.
The second major objective we set, for telephone calls, when we moved "support" to Sri Lanka was to deal with any telephoned problem within the first call (if it was not a problem involving a carrier) and within 48 hours if it did involve a carrier. This requires each person who answers a call to possess a great deal of experience and have ready access to 'complete' trouble shooting documentation and 'tools' and also ready access to very highly knowledgeable and experienced Level 3 support personnel. After almost two years of operation we have not yet reached that stage of development but it's the next major goal. I believe it will be possible to reach that next major objective before the end of this calendar year because we have one, very significant, advantage over any other "support centre" that I have known - we have an extraordinarily low 'staff turnover' rate and therefore we retain the people we employ for far longer than the better 'support centres' operated by the people we compete with.
Our very high personnel retention rate is the result of our very different personnel hiring policies - pay three times as much as the 'market average' which gives you the ability to select only the very, very best people (against very 'elite' criteria) and they have no 'temptations' to be lured away by other 'support centres' paying them more money once they are fully trained. We also provide by far the best working conditions and management practices that tend to eliminate the other major factors in personnel turn over....lack of promotion, bonuses recognising performance, training, top management reviews on a regular basis, no "hot desking" and all of the other processes that are aimed at making working for Exetel a better experience than anything they would have experienced before joining us. I am of the opinion that this single factor is the key to achieving the remainder of our "support" objectives over the coming year....that and exceptionally good management.....without which nothing of any difficulty can ever be achieved.
So far so good - we have put in place a facility that, over time, will be regarded as providing levels of service unheard of in Australian data communications if it continues to make its current rate of progress and continues to adhere to the standards that make such a result possible. Doing it, consistently, is a completely different kettle of finny things.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Tuesday, May 4. 2010
....remind me of the bad old days of 2001 for some reason.........
Most of yesterday was taken up with planning the 'trials' of the fibre services and getting the necessary back hauls and other functionality activated in three States as well as putting in place the systems required to process orders and track provisioning. Fault reporting and fault resolution are not as clearly defined as they need to be (in my view) but perhaps the suppliers take the view that they will never have a fault - more likely I haven't understood the documentation correctly.
With the proposed Telstra, Point Cook, 'trial' beginning next Monday we have very little time to finalise our various offerings over the three 'networks' in terms of activation and ongoing pricing. As the Telstra based services will be provided over our current Telstra inter-connect infrastructure and we will use the same B2B interfaces it will be much easier to put that in place than the other two - however Telstra's pricing is unexciting and, as with their ADSL services, there is little we can do to make it attractive to end users - it seems to me that Telstra continues to live in a world which only peripherally intersects with the world Exetel lives in.....then again perhaps it's simply that Exetel has unreasonable expectations.
We had hoped to have 'one' fibre plan basis for all three providers but there seem to be too many differences between both the various providers and the huge difference in back haul and IP costs in Tasmania - at least as far as our operations are concerned. In looking at the different providers pricing structures and then looking at the 'early' pricing of those ISPs who have released end user pricing the same sort of 'dreariness' is being applied to fibre as is being applied to ADSL - unsurprising in many ways I suppose - but oddly disappointing.
Over the next few days we will finalise the Telstra pricing and put it on the web site in time for the 10th May 'release' and will finalise the Opticomm and Tasmania pricing some time next week. We will work out a way of making the potential buyers in these geographically disparate, and very small, areas aware of our 'offerings' by the end of the week and start the processes involved early next week. Again these will have to be different to anything we have done so far and, like all new approaches, will have some doubt as to their efficacy.
Our principal 'technical' issue is how to provide VoIP as simply as possible and, of course, as cost effectively as possible. Some insight in to the greed of other ISPs has become evident in the early pricing of VoIP for fibre customers and other even more unforgivable rip offs. It seems that fibre services will not be a 'new' start but just a continuation of 'gut the sucker' pricing practices. It will be interesting to see the "public's" reaction, or come to think of it the reaction of the Australian media, should those practices ever subsequently come to light. This has become not a nice industry to be associated with over the last few years. Perhaps it never was and I just didn't notice.
The principal 'unknown' (at least to us) in these exercises is what take up there will be of VoIP services and the hardware required to make VoIP painless for the non-technical end user. This also involves what 'support' should be provided for VoIP and on what basis that support should be provided. In theory every fibre broadband user should use VoIP for their telephone calls as they will have no PSTN. Obviously some customers will elect to use their mobile(s) as their only method of making and receiving telephone calls and it may well be the case that fibre customers will never use a 'conventional' hand set to make telephone calls in the future. It is one of the key differences between providing fibre services and providing ADSL services and, I think, it will be THE issue to be addressed successfully.....and I haven't got a clue as to how to do it. Right now - I am of the opinion that VoIP 'support' should be charged for but I have a feeling that is going to be too "brave" a decision right now - though I am firmly of the opinion that it is going to become necessary in the not too distant future.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Monday, May 3. 2010
...............provides some interesting possibilities.
One of the great unknowns about the provision of services over one or more of the current proposed networks is will the 'NBN2' ever be built and if it is on what basis will it be offered - in terms of pricing and the differentials on which it will base 'discounts' to the various different sized wholesale customers. Given that there is no 'NBN2' at the moment and that there may never be one if there is a surprise result in the next Federal election this issue is not capable of being factually addressed at this time - at least not by a company such as Exetel.
So at various times yesterday I attempted to work out a pricing scenario for the three fibre networks that Exetel may have access to by July 1st 2010 - Telstra's Point Cook 'trial', Opticomm's wired housing estates and the NBNCo Tasmanian 'Phase 1' towns. The most logical scenario is to take the 'known' pricing from Opticomm and assume that Telstra will price in the range it uses for ADSL and then assume that the 'NBN2' will factor in discounts that massively favour Telstra leaving competing with Telstra as difficult as it is today - in terms of buy price differential. This makes any decision about offering fibre a pretty easy one - you wouldn't begin to think about doing it as you'd just swap the untenable mess of trying to provide ADSL services over a Telstra owned infrastructure for using a Fibre infrastructure on pretty much the same basis.
It seems to me that the only scenario that would work for Exetel is the one that the 'experts' is saying won't work for the 'gubmant' - the scenario where Telstra doesn't sell out its customer base and PSTN and proceeds to offer its own fibre services. In a strange way you then have 'competition' in fibre networks - assuming the 'NBN2' (as claimed by the gubmant) can exist without Telstra's sell out. After you try and get your head round those different scenarios for an hour or so you inevitably reach the conclusion that you don't have enough facts to make any sensible decisions - however you have to because come June 1st 2010 you are going to have be offering services at contract prices for fibre using three different networks and three different pricing structures (none of which are likely to remain the same for very long) and you are also going to have to spend the money required to inter-connect to these three networks in at least three different States....or you could just ignore the whole thing and do something based on real facts with some sort of realistic 'picture' of the near future....
......but that would be a cop out and would, quite possibly be the first step of the process to abandon residential services....so we won't be doing that, not out of choice but out of perceived necessity.
So I reached a 'semi' conclusion that the best thing for a company of Exetel's size to do was to restrict its 'ambitions' in terms of future fibre customers it could provide services to by aiming it's possible future fibre offerings to the low/medium ends of the marketplaces by pursuing a pay for what you use pricing strategy that eliminates having to deal with 'averaging' plans as has become the de facto 'standard' of today. 'Averaging' plans always punishes people, approximately 70% of Exetel's current ADSL users, who use very little of the monthly allowances and rewards people who use all of their allowances by effectively reducing their cost per gb to a quarter of what the majority pay. (I'm sure you can work out how that is the case).
So it seems more sensible to me to provide fibre services at low costs to 50% plus of the likely user base than to cater for the other 30% or so of the user base for broad band services and rely on some sort of 'level playing field' in terms of access pricing that, at least in the first year or so, will allow Exetel to compete on much better terms than it does today in terms of volume purchases. This would result in, using an ADSL-like model charging a base access cost for the three different speed services plus a per gb charge for actual downloads - an ugly model but one that will almost certainly be used by ISPs who are already or who will start offering fibre services.
Having so little firm data to work on I then gave up and did something more interesting and productive with the rest of the day.
Copyright © Exetel Pty Ltd 2010
Sunday, May 2. 2010
.........and is shuffling closer together seeking mutual protection....or that's how it seems to me.
I'm not sure what has caused it but I am receiving more 'unsolicited' contacts from people in other related businesses than usual over the past few weeks. Some of them are simply exploring 'business opportunities' but a fair proportion are people wanting to talk about things as diverse as the TIO, The 'NBN2', Telstra pricing, how/why Exetel took action against Telstra, buying IP and other services from Exetel and, most strangely, would we sell our automated provisioning and support systems. I imagine more 'approachable' people in the industry than I have ever chosen to be make and receive these sorts of contacts all the time but I rarely receive them - I regard all such people as competitors and therefore would do nothing to assist them in any way at all.
There were so many over such a short space of time that it probably means 'something'. I put it down to these very uncertain and very tough times that make almost every day some sort of new 'challenge' and after a succession of them produces a form of 'punch drunk' exhaustion in terms of dealing with 'surprise' issues. I attended my eldest son's engagement party last night and I spoke with a couple of 'industry people who in passing alluded to times being tough but I didn't pursue the comments partly because of the occasion but mainly because of the noise level that made it difficult to hear what anyone with whom you were conversing was saying. I actually feel less 'pressure' over the past week than at any time this calendar year - I'm not sure that was because of the general happiness of the upcoming event or that there were less 'challenges' over the past seven days.
Perhaps its this general feeling of well being that brought me to the conclusion earlier this morning to go ahead with signing both the Telstra Wholesale Point Cook trial agreement and the NBN2 Tasmanian agreement without any changes to the suggested drafts provided by the suppliers and to go ahead and finalise the pricing for the Opticomm sites in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. I realise that all of these 'opportunities' combined only cover a tiny percentage of the current ADSL marketplaces but "it's a symbolic" start to some sort of new era as one overblown piece of PR described it - which will not see the light of day.
We have been looking for a differentiator to the dreariness that has become the ADSL pricing offers across all suppliers and see the start of fibre based services to turn back the clock to honesty and sanity, and even, common sense, that has been so completely lost by ADSL being priced according to the original Telstra model that has been copied, and copied, and copied by every other carrier and reseller since 2001. The concept of an access price plus an included down load allowance plus throttling/pay per mb over those allowances was always stupidly over complicated and was only done, and then maintained for the last ten years, because Telstra (followed by every one else) wholesale pricing was structured that way.
It's long past time for a change and an end to all the lying and obfuscation that is ADSL pricing today - getting as bad as mobile pricing - designed to gut the stupid.
I need someone with a keener mind than I have to run the figures a few more times before we make any final decision on the actual price per gigabyte but I think fibre needs some radical new, sensible, not con the stupid methodology and the one I personally favour is zero install, zero monthly access charge and $1.00 per gb down loaded plus the cost of any termination hardware that is needed as a one off purchase.
Maybe it was the thought of being able to see a way out of the current pricing models we have to put in place that has caused this haze of cheerfulness?
PS: More people publicly agree with the bleeding obvious I wrote about when it happened:
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