ISPreview - Year in Review 2006
ISP's Talk Migration, ADSL2+ & MAX
By: Mark Jackson - February 7th 2007 : Page 1 -of- 3
"it will unfortunately kill off many smaller Internet providers, who's churn rate at present is on the decline"

The UK’s Internet access industry can be likened to a constantly evolving life form, changing its shape and structure to adapt against a backdrop of strong competition and fierce rivalry with every passing moment. This year is no different, with several major developments looming just over the horizon.

Chief among these changes will be the introduction of faster ADSL2+ technology and tougher broadband migration rules. Keen to understand how ISP’s had been coping with last year’s major developments, let alone those yet to be introduced, we shot off several short questions in an effort to gain some insight from their perspective.

The following interview comprises responses from three providers and their respective managers. EntaNet’s COO – James Blessing, Vispa Internet’s MD – James Ormerod and Firenet’s CEO – Alan Castle were all kind enough to give us their time for this brief Q&A session.

The Interview

1) On 14th February Ofcom will change the rules governing migration between broadband ADSL providers to make the process both faster and compulsory for ISP’s. How do you perceive this impacting your own service and rivals in the market at large?

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EntaNet: It will finally mean that the rules that Entanet have been following since their inception will be enforced on all service providers creating a level playing field. Major concern is that it will mean that service providers will have to spend more time in the courts recovering legitimate costs or have to increase their bad debt provision, this being bad for the smaller players in the market.

Vispa: All in all, it will not affect us as our existing policy is quite simply to listen to our customer and address their issue(s)/requirements. If we cannot meet their requirements we issue a MAC key, there and then, over the phone. There are ISP's out there who make it very difficult to obtain MAC keys. In a sense, as we already operate a 'no nonsense' approach, therefore, it will make it easier for us to gain customers and not lose customers.

Firenet: This of course is a good move in the industry as a whole, although it will unfortunately kill off many smaller Internet providers, who's churn rate at present is on the decline due to "free broadband for life" providers. The entire Internet industry needed this, due to certain amount ISP wholesalers who were preventing their customers from making an informed choice to leave their services without having to do an ADSL cease cancel and then wait for upto 6 weeks without an ADSL service.

In the past, there was a flaw in the migration system that left tens of thousands of customers, ransomed for their custom by poorly managed wholesalers, who failed to see the bigger picture, and stole the customers from the actual isp for themselves. Now with this new rule, customers will be able to vote with their feet regardless of contractual obligations, money owed or any other reason the supplier may have to prevent the customer from leaving. If an isp fails to deliver services worthy of the customers requirements, then the customer requests a mac code to leave.

From our side, we are as good as our supplier, if they fail to deliver good services, we lose customers quicker on this system and regretfully lose profits, however, this could act as a benefit for us too, because our suppliers will also lose money, therefore they will have to ensure good service is paramount to prevent losing profits also.

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