Resellers, network integrators and small ISPs are finding a wider range of options for sourcing broadband connectivity suppliers, as mid-tier providers look to the channel to gain market share.
In October 2001, wholesale ISP Pacific Internet began offering ADSL connectivity for re-sale, the first time it has turned to the channel to increase sales. More than 20 channel partners have since signed up for the program in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
One such dealer partner is MicroThin, a service provider specialising in the travel industry. MicroThin is using Pacific Internet's broadband service to deliver applications to the desktops of travel agencies from an off-site data centre.
"The ASP business had no opportunity to take off until nine months ago because broadband was too expensive for the SME customer," said MicroThin's Greg Young. "We have to be very price-conscious in our market and find ways to make it economical for our customers."
Young said Telstra's well-publicised ADSL network hiccups factored into his snubbing of the major telcos and his decision to partner with a mid-tier ISP. "Pacific Internet is not the cheapest, but the service is outstanding," he said. "At one particular telco, you are constantly being pushed from one contact to another, but with smaller providers there are not as many layers of people you need to get through before a decision can be made."
Anthony Buczynski, proprietor of Queensland ISP easemail.Net, also shunned the major telcos when looking for a broadband provider. Buczynski said he found the major telcos "most unhelpful". Unless a reseller can guarantee them very large volumes of customers immediately, they are priced too high, he said.
Nik Gelis, technical director for network integration specialist The Grid Corporation, said he would prefer to partner with a supplier that has a fresh channel model in place rather than become one of the many hundreds of partners at a major telcos. "I don't want to just walk in and fill out a form," he said. "I want someone who is keen and has a pricing scheme that suits our customers."
Pacific Internet sales manager Matt Lovegrove said he hopes to sign up a lot more reseller and dealer partners over the next few months. "We would like to have around 70 or 80 partners," he said.