Archive for August, 2007

Customer service

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

I am sure that, like me, many of you will be tired of hearing all those ICT managers saying that they are, oh, so focused on their customers and that their major occupation is listening to what they want.

Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they really may be doing this, these customer-focused exercises seldom produce anything that demonstrates the fact. They always seem to come up with the most complex price plans; with bundles that don’t suit me; and with devices that are classic examples of user-unfriendliness.

Just some of the issues that come to my mind …..

• Providing a mobile call plan that really delivers me the best service for what I want – we estimate that the failure of the industry to provide such customer services nets them 10%-15% in additional revenue, since nobody is actually able to find the best plan. There might be a conflict of interest here with true customer service.

• Installing new services on our PCs, mobile phones, iPods, etc. They all say that their devices (with that new program or update) are extremely simple, yet the consensus is that it is very likely they will not work first time, leaving you with a problem to sort out. And, while I am happy to pay for a service to do this for me, most of the time that service is simply not available.

• Vendors’ features, not my features. True, most devices I own have over a thousand features – perhaps, who knows, even the ones I need. But, unless you are a teenager, what hope do you have of finding them? Why can’t they be delivered pre-set with ‘my’ applications? This is one of the key reasons data services on mobile phones are not seen to be user-friendly, and therefore are not used.

• Supporting customers’ Internet connections when they are attacked by a virus. For most users this is a traumatic experience, as their providers leave it up to the customer to sort out the mess.

• Simplifying the myriad wires connecting VCRs, DVDs, digital TV and pay TV receivers and surround sound. If you have more than three or four devices it is likely that you won’t be able to manage the cable forest at the back of the home ‘entertainment’ set-up.

• No outages – of several hours, several minutes, or even several seconds. This is particularly relevant when trying to obtain an Internet connection, a dial tone, or when trying to record your favourite show on your DVR.

• The curse of bundles. Give me the choice to select my own bundle of triple play or pay TV services.

• Feel free to add your own customer service wishes to this list.

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BroadIP (since September 2006 MyNetPhone)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

In September 2006 BroadIP indicated it is retreating from the telco market and sold its VoIP business to MyNetPhone.

In April 2006 the Australian publicly-listed company, Broad Investments, a major services provider in the premium mobile content market, entered the broadband telephony market with the launch of wholly-owned subsidiary BroadIP, a corporate and residential VoIP provider offering full national coverage.

BroadIP has embarked on an aggressive growth strategy and is aiming to become the market leader based on paying subscriber numbers and customer revenue in the SME market within one year. It is also looking to become a significant player in the large corporate space.

This is a market segment for which BroadIP has developed a very cost-effective product, offering savings of 50%-55% on their current telecoms expenditure.

BroadIP has also acquired 2,000 residential customers following the acquisition of the small but profitable broadband provider Shiftreload.

BroadIP is negotiating with US and European VoIP providers for global termination and reciprocal trade. Once these deals are in place the company will generate additional revenue streams by means of unlimited international call products and by terminating calls for the customers of other international VoIP providers.

BroadIP claims to be the first Australian company to offer a bundled broadband, unlimited VoIP and line rental product and a true unlimited local and national access plan for residential customers.

Exhibit 1 – BroadIP price plans

Residential

$19.99 per month

Local and national calls – 200 minutes and then 10 cents flat rate per call thereafter

Calls to mobiles – 27 cents per minute – international rates start at 2 cents per minute $49.99 per month

Unlimited local and national calls

Calls to mobiles – 27 cents per minute – international rates start at 2 cents per minute $120 per month

Bundled broadband and voice

Broadband connection plus unlimited local and national calls (as per the $49.99 per month plan) and Telstra line rental

Corporate

From $25.00 per month per user

Local and national calls – 250 minutes and then 10 cents flat rate per call thereafter

Calls to mobiles – 27 cents per minute – international rates start at 2 cents per minute

(Source BuddeComm)

BroadIP and Uecomm join forces in VoIP

In July the company announced an agreement with data specialist Uecomm to work together in delivering VoIP services and data telecommunication solutions for the SME and Corporate market in Australia.

BroadIP will provide VoIP termination and the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) and IPT hardware, while Uecomm will provide the data component of the solution.

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Australia – Failed unbundling attempt from Dingo Blue

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Handset unbundling was introduced in Australia in 1999 by dingo blue; its impact was small. It was not until 2002 that a serious attempt was made to introduce handset unbundling. Telstra went the full way and unbundled its packages, Vodafone at that stage still continued bundled packages and Optus only made some minor changes. While Virgin has always had its unbundled offerings, at the same time it offers a bundled product to its ‘high-value’ customers. Soon after the initial unbundling attempts, competition forced all parties to maintain handset subsidies.

Unbundled offerings would not doubt result in a more economic market situation. On the one hand, customers will be confronted with the real value of a mobile phone and either hang on to this phone for a longer period, and/or also base their purchase on economic grounds. In a bundled offering they often have no idea about the real value of the handset. On the other hand, as operators fail to attract higher spending users to new services offered such as WAP, GPRS, MMS, 1X, etc, they don’t have to waste money on those more expensive handsets that users are not using to generate extra revenue for them.

With handsets becoming a fashion item, handset subsidies have further increased, especially from Telstra and Optus, which are in a battle for market share. Traditionally in the ‘competition’ season, operators launched a range of new mobile phones during the Christmas period with colour screens, cameras and multimedia and other features. These expensive phones ($1,000 plus) can only be subsidised through bundled packages. Despite the costs, competition will force players to subsidise new (expensive) handsets and bundling will thus remain an important feature of the industry, mainly for higher value services.

Unbundling will continue in the lower-end of the market and this offers new market opportunities for handset manufacturers, especially those with a good understanding of the consumer electronics market. Watch out for some of the Japanese and Korean manufacturers.

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Australia – Demand for mobile numbers – 2000-2005

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Mobile numbers 2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005

Allocated 2,500,000 500,000 3,300,000 2,420,000 6,500,000

Surrendered 100,000 500,000 400,000 0 1,000,000

Net increase 2,400,000 0 2,900,000 2,420,000 5,500,000

Cumulative total allocated 26,700,000 26,700,000 29,600,000 32,020,000 37,520,000

(Source: ACMA)

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Australia Mobile Content – iTouch

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

iTouch was founded in 1995 and shortly thereafter began developing and operating value-added mobile services with the largest mobile operator in South Africa – Vodacom.

For Consumers services, iTouch licenses content and creates propositions that they then distribute via direct marketing channels to mobile users (eg. Using the premium SMS short code "193193"), via operator portals (eg. Optus Zoo), or via affiliate partners (eg. NineMSN).

The company builds its own consumer brands by extensively advertising services available through its direct channel model, but also offers "white-label" mobile technology solutions to corporate clients who wish to have a visible presence in the mobile space. This white label solution offers the corporate partner the benefit of a rich content site at an affordable entry cost.

They have established and grown relationships with some of the world’s leading content brands (i.e. Zomba Records, Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony Pictures etc). The company acts as an aggregator and licensee for this content which is delivered via its mobile technology platform.

The Group has continued to strengthen its position as a global mobile services company through a number of strategic acquisitions in various territories, including Telequity (Australia 2001), Thus Group (UK 2002), Movilisto (Spain 2003) and Jippii Mobile Entertainment (2004). The Jippii acquisition increased the iTouch footprint to over 25 countries with connectivity to 94 network operators. The Group has an extensive library with more than 34,000 items and growing daily.

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