We had our best new order week for residential ADSL for over a year and the best 'January' week for four years as well as all other services having excellent order weeks so whatever has changed in the various different market places continues on into a third week. That is, of course, very pleasing but not knowing what is causing it remains a source of unease as to when it is going to end - assuming it is an aberration which seems to be the only view to take right now. We also had the best ever day and week for corporate data orders in any January with the contribution from the 'new' corporate sales people in Colombo contributing to that result which is really good to see in these very early days....but that is far more easily understood - more sales people = more sales. In any event - it is much nicer to have a surprising, if inexplicable, increase in orders than to try and puzzle out the reverse.
I was invited to a very pleasant lunch yesterday with someone who 'studies' the ISP industry as part of his investment service advice business life to exchange views on what might happen over the coming year. My views are, of necessity, very 'micro' while his are by and large very 'macro' based; although they are relatively tightly focused on the various actions of iinet and TPG and the development of the 'NBN2'. It was a pleasant and useful discussion producing some new considerations and certainly gave me a much better understanding, at least financially, of what those two companies could do in the future. His understanding of what they both were trying to do in the SOHO marketplace (iinet) and the SME marketplaces (TPG) was interesting but I found difficult to comprehend.....I formed the view that if his view of what they were trying to do was correct then they would both fail in their objectives in a big way.
The fact that the residential ADSL marketplaces are at best static and, for at least some providers continually shrinking, seems to be the catalyst for renewed/new interest in "business" market places by several 'residential' ISPs. The problem that the few I have seen seem to have is that they are trying to use a residential ADSL service as a business service with the only difference being that they charge more for it and include spurious 'promises' to make it sound like something it isn't....in other words it is just a 'con'. Perhaps I am not fully informed and am not reading the 'offers' correctly? If that is the case then I obviously need a remedial English comprehension course because I don't understand what 'magic' has been used to convert a non-SLA residential service into a 99.95% up time "business service".
Exetel's business services (based on ADSL2 linked to an auto fail over wireless back up service) are making some steady progress and we will experiment with a new method of promoting some significant growth in these types of sales over the balance of January. As I have said before - finding a way to put 'our case' to the theoretical 2,000,000 soho/sme users around Australia remains the key objective for Exetel over the coming year - that and developing a service that is better than any other supplier's to those market places. If we can do that then we will be able to complete the transition we began almost three years ago. A very difficult, perhaps impossible, set of tasks....but aiming to do the impossible is a useful way of using your time.