Sunday, May 30. 2010
.....try, try , try again....and then keep repeating the process.
I did some more 'analysis' on wireless broadband yesterday - but it was 'saturday analysis' which means that I browsed various competitors and US carrier web sites while watching Geelong proceed to a routine win over Melbourne. Our efforts to date to find a (profitable) way of providing wireless broadband to residential and business users has, largely, been a failure - we simply cannot begin to match the 'give away' programs of Optus themselves and other Optus associated providers. We are making some encouraging progress in the business sectors and we would now expect to make more progress in those sectors as the facilities we offer to manage wireless broadband 'fleet' continue to develop and MoIP becomes better accepted. There is no doubt that together with finding ways to deal with the saturation (and the subsequent competitor actions caused by saturation) finding ways to more rapidly build a wireless broadband base is either the most important or second most important challenge of the new financial year.
Our simple problem is that our buy price for data is getting close to double the price that Telstra, among others, offer residential customers at retail. Now, while that actually isn't true when you REALLY look at what is being offered it's certainly apparently true to the majority of people who look for wireless broadband service.....so it's the same thing as far as developing a service goes. Interestingly neither Telstra nor Optus attempt to offer the same smoke and mirrors pricing to corporate customers - I wonder why that would be? That doesn't help us in residential sales but it is becoming noticeable in business sales where pricing being offered by Telstra and Optus is actually higher than Exetel's pricing and doesn't have the add ons we provide but, in most cases is tied in to a 'whole of business deal' on 3+ year contracts. Again that will change over time as we get more exposure in the larger corporate market sectors.
In residential offerings we have two issues that have been insurmountable so far: the fixed monthly service charge and the very high per mb cost of data that Optus charge us. Anything is 'overcomeable' if we were to resort to the smoke and mirrors hucksterism of the current major offerors of wireless broadband services - but I really dislike resorting to that sort of 'gut the mug he/she deserves it for being that stupid' type of operating. Then again, I may be entirely the wrong sort of person to be involved in these exercises and I may have to acknowledge that fact and withdraw from future planning processes for wireless broadband.....but for this one last time that will not be possible.
We have a few more days to come up with new ways of approaching the various market sectors we think we may have a chance of addressing but I have to say that I really don't currently have any ideas that could be considered even vaguely appealing. We don't get "free" wireless USB modems and we don't get "free" monthly access charges and we certainly don't get "free" data so it is not possible to match, or even get close to, the current offers from our competitors or the retail operation of our supplier for that matter. We need a bolt from the blue inspiration otherwise we will have to endure another year of mundanity in marketplaces that are rapidly growing. The problem is simple - how to offer something meaningfully attractive where our competitors are selling at half our buy price?
Why is that so hard?
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Every person I know preferred to buy their wireless broadband dongle and account 'off the shelf' at the local shopping centre. That included them knowingly having a better deal via mail/online order.
Your competitors exposure and convenience at the shop front may also be a factor.
I got nothing innovative only observations to contribute I am sorry.
This observation may have something to do with the fact that when you go into a shop, there's someone to explain how it all works and the bits of hardware you need to make it happen.
A few months ago, I looked at wireless and VOIP as an alternative to ADSL and landline. Even though I've been in IT since '79, I had to really dig around and use the old brain to try and figure how it all worked and what was needed.
I just had a quick look at the Wireless pages on the Exetel website and for me, it seems to assume a basic understanding of how it works and the hardware required. There are a lot of acronyms used and big gaps in explanations, particularly on the hardware side. For example, there's mention of a Yagi antenna, but no information (that I can see) that explains whether I might need one.
I think the whole Wireless section could be re-designed and re-written so that it takes the reader through the sales decision process assuming NO prior knowledge and moves forward in baby steps. Illustrations showing alternative hardware setups and notes on each would be helpful too.
Another aspect that's hard for a prospect to figure out is - what sort of performance can I expect? And what are the pros and cons over a landline service? These may be hard to describe because you don't know the reader's location. And it may explain why people go into a local shop - the sales person probably has first hand knowledge of how the service performs locally and can offer feedback and re-assurance that it will work for the customer. Somehow, this issue needs to be addressed on the website too.
Finally, some way of trialling the service at minimum cost would be good. In fact, this may be a good substitute for the shop sales person - try it yourself for a minimum outlay and no obligation.
You are an innovator and creator - none can beat you.
Exetel is now, and has been in phase two of company development for a while and you seem to have far more difficulty mapping a course that you and the current Exetel customers are happy with.
Since day 1 of my knowledge of Exetel’s existence (back in late 2004) I have always spread the word about you and your visions for Exetel, but you have started to make so many changes to all aspects of Exetel's future that I'm not sure what Exetel as an ISP stands for anymore.
You have started to confuse even me.
I never want put Exetel down as I have always believed in your visions but could you please clarify if I’m still understanding where your heading.
- from my interpretation your words - that you are heading towards a far greater emphasis on company / Ethernet customer base .
- you will eventually divest ADSL1 internet from Exetel’s offerings – I’m guessing its better to sell it off now before - it all just fades away over time.
- wireless broadband this seems to cause so much time and effort in planning to acquire customers but -- basically your finding it extremely difficult to compete with the network owners.
- ADSL2+ its mildly profitably but the only real way to make money out of it is to bundle products with it.
My own view is the current Exetel customers are easily spooked by so many changes happening so quickly – when you pick a course keep on it.
all the best ,
These are confused times and I don't really understand them in detail.
Exetel set out to provide the lowest cost services to residential users for ADSL services - we can't do that any more for ADSL2 'high end' users so we have to move away from that section of the marketplace.
That is the only change.
A couple of times I've seen you write comments about Optus & Telstra wireless retail offerings being cheaper than Exetel and now "half our buy price". I can't find them - though perhaps that's because I consider the "smoke and mirrors".
Actually I believe Exetel is a better deal. Who uses all their allowance per month? I would argue most people would be better with Exetel prepaid with $30 recharges. The only advantage most plans is shaping when you go over - ie your spend is capped.
I'd suggest though there is another reason people choose Telstra or Optus - and that is they are a one stop shop that provides the complete working solution. If there is a problem, there is only one place to call (or go). My father-in-law like that he can go to a Telstra shop. (You and I know that is a farce, but he feels good to be able to see a face.) They provide a complete working solution and they will solve problems. I don't need to know the details.
The problem with most of the solutions that Exetel offers is the need to understand the technology. Who do I ring when the ADSL2 goes down?
Even when a customer might be able to get all solutions from Exetel, it sometimes requires some technical expertise and time to put it all together. That's fine for me but I work in IT research. The average Joe out there just can't cope. They call me for help!
So for example, while wireless + VOIP might be a good residential solution, the average residents aren't going to cope with the technical issues of getting it going - configuring ATAs, networks and 3G modems. I suspect the same for MOIP.
The technical skill level might just be too high for most people.
There is a lot of truth in what you say - but as you also point out the 'support' a phone shop employee can provide is close to zero for anything beyond reading out the instructions the customer already has.
But I accept the concept.
I really don't know what to do about such scenarios other than sell such services through agents who not only are a 'face' but a knowledgeable one.
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