Annette made the hackneyed/mundane comment earlier this morning - "where did the week go?....it had a Monday and a Friday....but the rest"....I agreed but didn't say that's often the way it is for me. I'm sure its the same for most people who have more to do in any given day than they have time for. Or perhaps it's the aging process?
Our fibre applications from the Point Cook area continue at an average of 4 - 5 per day which, to me, is amazing from such a small number of potential customers (I don't know the precise number but it is variously quoted at numbers between 1,500 and 2,500 residences). There is a surprisingly high rejection rate - far higher than with ADSL - and we are still trying to understand that with the help of Telstra. I hope we don't find anything we wouldn't like to when the 'facts' become apparent. We are in the final stages of getting the cross connects activated for linking to the Opticomm fibred estates and would expect to begin offering services to those residences/small businesses in early June. Similarly we have made some progress, much slower than we expected, in providing fibre services in Tasmania but will select a fibre provider by the end of next week. So, all in the very early stages, but an interesting set of challenges nevertheless.....particularly how to market to the potential customers in such diverse and limited areas.
Most of my week was spent on developing the FY2011 business plan and how we could better integrate the services we offer to provide more true value to customers who buy more than one service from us. As we don't start with any thing but wafer thin margins the 'standard bundling' processes available to large carriers aren't available to us. If you are an Exetel user you would know that we have spent a lot of time developing MoIP mini apps for both Nokia and Apple iPhones. We have now had both apps running effectively for some time and the iPhone version is available from the Apple App Store and is selling very well. Some 2,500 Exetel customers now use the MoIP app (which provides 10 cent national calls to any land line number in Australia and 5 cent SMS to any mobile phone in Australia. I think that these are the best ways of adding value to Exetel customers as I really don't think there is any lower cost SMS or CTM service available from any carrier or provider and none of them are likely to offer such a service - for all the obvious reasons.
A combination of a fibre service with mobile calls at ten cents and SMS at 5 cents obviating the need for a 'wire line' telephone service could be quite appealing as a FY2011 offer. The continuing increase in the ratio of 'naked' ADSL applications versus wire line included (either from Exetel or supplier of choice) clearly shows there is a preference by an increasing number of users to get rid of PSTN services and VoiP is one sensible way to do that. Once a user is happy with VoIP why wouldn't they use MoIP? I know, I know...."because capped plans are so inexpensive".....except every one I have ever seen checked just isn't. Irrespective of that flim flam there are sensible people in the market place who are numerate and who can work out simple multiplications who would see that 10 cent calls and 5 cent SMS and no minimum spend would be a good offer. Perhaps I am wrong.
The other major aspect of the FY2011 business plan, in terms of residential services, is how to provide wireless broadband to 50% of Exetel's customers who have a laptop/notebook and who use it outside their residence. People like students (or more precisely parents of students) who may need wireless broadband away from the home on occasions and people who travel or just have a need for internet away from wifi hot spots. Of course we could attempt to meet the needs of people with the obsession for 'free' who seem capable of believing that services cost the provider nothing to supply. But I would have thought that there were a sensible number (bearing in mind it's unlikely that
Exetel has much more than 1% of the residential market) for Exetel to be able to provide half of its current or new users with a $1.00 per month HSPA service (on a 24 month contract) that could be used either as a back up to any ADSL outage and/or as a low cost MoIP service or in a laptop/notebook as a mobile broadband resource. Again, maybe I'm totally wrong. Essentially we need to make at least some of these things work out to allow us to complete the change to Exetel's way of competing in the Australian residential market places over the coming year.
So, an interesting enough week in the mundane world of providing communications services in Australia even though the fact that it passed in a blur indicates nothing remarkable or memorable occurred.
I expect a $1 per month HSPA plan would be attractive for many occasional and back-up users. The current $5 plans are probably good value if you know you will use a few hundred kb every month but I suspect at $1 you would get a much higher take-up and probably in some cases multiple accounts per user (eg one in a usb modem as a back-up connection for computer and one for HSPA enabled device while out and about) or family.
If the plans had the ability to make mobile calls that would allow the user flexibility in how to use their account (for example use as back-up usb most of the time and in an iphone etc while on holidays) - Not sure if this is still the case but this was not previously allowed with mobile phone HSPA plans.