ISP Review - Telewest Interview

ISP Review interviews UK ISP Telewest (blueyonder)

Telewest Interview
By Mark 'Winter' Jackson : Feb 15th-2005 : Page 2 of 3

"Dial-up services will have a very small place in the UK market as broadband access becomes more widely available"

4) What’s your opinion on the EU’s new ‘Data Retention’ (forcing ISP’s to hold onto customers’ personal online traffic data) proposals?

It’s well intended but must be balanced with the need to maintain the internet as an open and free platform for personal communication, which is necessary to promote innovation and usage.

5) Do you perceive ISP’s as playing an important role in the adoption of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology, or is it best left to the telecoms operators?

ISPs clearly have an opportunity to help drive the adoption of VoIP technology. In time, we believe VoIP services will not only be differentiated on the basis of price, but also in terms of the customer experience and functionality. As Telewest Broadband is both an ISP and a telephone provider, we can leverage our existing customer knowledge and network ownership to provide a VoIP service that is uniquely positioned in the marketplace.

6) Many speak of forthcoming faster broadband technologies (ADSL2, Fibre To The Home etc.), do you think there’s demand for faster services or should things stay as they are?

There is definitely demand for faster services, proven by the fact that over 70% of our customers subscribe to our 1Mb, 2Mb or 4Mb services. When choosing an ISP, our research has indicated speed superiority is one of the most important purchase criteria.

The key to making speed an important benefit, however, is to bring the speed element to life. At Telewest Broadband our focus has been to align our tiers of speed with the applications and content they enable, thereby providing a portfolio of services which can meet the needs of distinct user segments.

With the development of more feature-rich applications, such as video communications and the proliferation of home networking, speed will become more and more important.

As cable has an inherent speed advantage over ADSL, we are well positioned to win any arms race based on speed, which is one reason why we are confident we can maintain our market leading position over the longer-term.

7) Will dial-up services still have a place in the UK market 5 to 10 years down the line?

Dial-up services will have a very small place in the UK market as broadband access becomes more widely available and general awareness increases. Broadband will also become more affordable to price-sensitive consumers through new pricing models such as pre-pay and pay-as-you-go.

8) Many fear that the growing use of bandwidth limits will make broadband technology more restrictive, especially at a time when higher definition content, online music and movie downloads growth demand the opposite. What’s your ISP’s position on this?

Telewest Broadband maintains a no capping policy for several reasons.

Firstly, our customers have told us that they view caps as penalties and find them confusing. Our research also indicates they would rather have a slower uncapped service than a faster capped service. We want to minimise the barriers to broadband adoption and look after our customers - capping does neither.

Secondly, the way competitors have deployed caps, in terms of size and monthly measurement, does not enable them to realise meaningful network cost savings that can be passed onto consumers.

Capping does address a real concern for all ISPs, which is how to prevent a select handful of customers from hogging bandwidth and damaging the customer experience for the majority of users. But, there are smarter and more effective ways to address the issue of bandwidth hogs while not penalising all customers.

Variants of usage based pricing will certainly not disappear – indeed they will proliferate – but we believe they can be more cleverly integrated to create real value for both consumers and the ISP.

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