Sunday, April 17, 2011

It?s not about who?s first but who?s better!

The telecoms industry have always been slugging it out in terms of “price wars”. Sometimes, they’d also do the same in the technology front and being the first of anything new is always considered a prized trophy. Globe and Smart (and Sun, pre-PLDT acquisition) have been like that for years.

Who was the first one to offer WAP again? What about mobile TV? Or 3G? How about WiMax? Now the talk of the town is LTE.

Frankly, I don’t care. I think most customers would not care. After seeing what happened to their 3G/3.5G roll-out and the big promises of their WiMax, it all feels like just mere war of words. Ask any customer if they feel their brand new, hi-tech network connection has improved their internet experience.

From a Corp Comm perspective, being first is nice — it gets you a lot of good publicity (and avoids being called a “me too” competitor) and it’s good for the year-end corporate report (not to mention pogi points to the shareholders).

From a marketing perspective, it’s also good since you get the first-mover advantage and you get support from 3rd party manufacturers and service providers ahead as well.

Lastly, the good news helps divert attention away from existing issues such as bandwidth capping. Wait, what capping?

For us customers, the bottom line is all about “good service” (set aside pricing first). What good use is a technology that promises up to 50Mbps when one cannot even get a decent connection on the existing 2Mbps line? No new technology can guarantee good customer service.

We discussed this in detail during the time when the hot topic what about bandwidth capping and throttling. If those 2Mbps mobile subscriptions are being shared by an allocated number of subscribers, the factorial could still be the same for a 50Mbps connection. If they’d share 10 subs on a 2Mbps line, then it’s not surprising if they’d share 250 subs on the 50Mbps line. Same 5 is to 1 ratio (I’m just throwing theoretical numbers here). But that’s how “bandwidth provisioning” is done so we’ll just have to deal with it.

How about lowering the “sharing ratio” (or making the bandwidth provisioning more efficient)? How about offering more affordable “up to” DSL plans? How about pushing your current 3.5G network to serve up to 7.2Mbps instead of the measly 2Mbps that’s now in place. At least, even if I don’t get the full 7.2Mbps, a 50% efficiency will still get me a solid 3.6Mbps connection.

Being first can only get you so far. What use is being first when you cannot sustain customer confidence, good quality service (QoS) and uphold a fair policy (can’t even downgrade my 7-year old PLDT line without paying a Php10k downgrade fee). But then again, that’s how our telcos roll.

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