ISPreview - IDnet UK ISP Interview 2008
IDnet UK ISP Interview 2008
By: Mark Jackson - October 13th, 2008 : Page 2 -of- 3
"private enterprise on its own is not going to invest in fibre-to-the-countryside as it would be impossible to get a return on the  investment"

4. Mobile Broadband services have been one of the surprise hits of the past year, buoyed up by lower pricing, increasingly competitive speeds and even going so far as a take a nibble out of the fixed-line broadband market. What are your thoughts on this new service and is it to be perceived as a threat to your own?

IDNET: Mobile broadband has its place but we don’t see it as a direct replacement for fixed-line broadband.

5. BT recently revealed plans to invest £1.5bn into a rollout of faster ‘up to’ 100Mbps next generation fibre optic based broadband services, which could reach as many as 10 million homes by 2012. The service is bound to pose significant investment problems for ISPs, especially smaller providers, with many needing to juggle both existing broadband services with a completely new product.

How do you view this development in the broadband market, is it something ISPs can afford or even need and how do you think customers will react?

IDNET: I’m not so sure that it’s a service that customers want / could make use of at this time. But so long as the service is priced such that it can sustain itself (provide for the infrastructure investment required) then it is the same premise as the jump to 8Mbps and as the coming jump to 24Mbps broadband.

6. The rollout of future fibre optic broadband services from BT does have one very obvious downside, it risks widening the ‘Digital Divide’ between more economically feasible urban areas and rural/remote communities where the costs of installing fibre can be prohibitive.

Likewise, some locations that are only able to get the most basic of broadband speed and connectivity could be left out in the cold for many years to come. How do you think this problem should be tackled?

IDNET: Clearly private enterprise on its own is not going to invest in fibre-to-the-countryside as it would be impossible to get a return on the  investment. To achieve that roll-out it would require public investment.

7. BT has said that it will open its new next-generation fibre broadband network up to the wholesale (ISP) market, do you think that Virgin Media should now do the same with their more establish cable infrastructure and if so, why?

IDNET: We would like Virgin to open their network but I’m not sure it would be fair the force them to. After all, the taxpayer paid for the national PSTN network which was then gifted to BT when it was privatised.

8. The UK broadband market appears to have consolidated itself into a block of six dominant providers and four medium sized operations. Some of these, such as Sky and O2 (Be), are also increasingly able to offer impressive levels of service quality for lower price points, though they are more the exception than the rule.

How does this impact smaller ISPs, which often find it difficult to compete on price without causing detriment to their service quality; have smaller providers now lost their quality niche?

IDNET: The main problem here for small ISPs  is that huge media/telco companies are cross-subsidising their broadband services to the point where they are lost-leaders. They may be able to offer a suitable mass-market solution but their sheer size means that they cannot hope to offer the same level of service as a small ISP, particularly to Businesses who are now increasingly seeing email and net access as a “critical” service.

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