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What do users want?
Thursday 01 November 2001 09:48:00 by Andrew Ferguson

With the TMA conference happening in Brighton lots of sound bites are surfacing from people - but there seems to be little canvasing of what products users would like.

Chris Parker from the E-envoy's government office has suggested that price is a big hurdle to wide-spread adoption of the service - which when your switching from an unmetered dialup at £15/month to £40-£50/month for broadband it is a major decision.

Perhaps what DSL needs is a product not unlike what NTL are rolling out in areas, i.e. a low bandwidth entry level product, e.g. a 64kbps or 128kbps solution. If a product of this speed with say 10:1 contention or less were to be offered for £25/month retail take up would probably explode. The product itself for BTwholesale may not generate a profit but it would stimulate demand and ensure DSLAM's arent left hardly used in many areas, plus revenue could be increased by offering smooth upgrade paths to the higher speed 512kbps services if the line was of sufficient quality. A side effect would also be that with the lower downstream speeds they may be able revise the installation limits on the product, giving hope to users outside the range of the current 512kbps products.

Technically this can all be done, but there is one very large obstacle, if BTwholesale decided to expand it's product portfolio and introduce truly affordable 24/7 connections to home users - these are BT's competitors.

I'm sure the usual complainers would lobby Oftel to investigate and BT may be forced to not launch the product as it's uncompetitive - uncompetitive to who would have to be the question? It's becoming obvious that LLU will be targetting the DSL business market and BT's leased line business and people like NTL and Telewest have been running long enough that they should be able to compete properly.


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