The ISP Q&A Series is a look at the opportunities Australian ISPs have for resellers. It also profiles their views on some of the more contentious issues affecting the industry. In the fifth part of this ARN series, Optus wholesale marketing and strategy director, Gavin Williams, provided answers on how the carrier views the market, how it ran its ISP filtering trial and the NBN.
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1. What is your company's background?
Optus is an Australian leader in integrated telecommunications, delivering an extensive range of mobile, high-speed internet, voice, wireless and IP based services to over eight million customers each day. We are committed to listening to our customers and delivering innovative solutions that connects them to who and what’s important in their lives. Through our diverse network and dedication to outstanding customer experience, Optus continues to be the challenger in the Australian telecommunications industry, providing real and sustainable competition. Optus is part of the SingTel Group, Asia's leading communications group with operations and investments in more 20 countries and territories around the world.
2. Please explain the opportunities you have for resellers.
Optus Wholesale has been a vibrant and successful part of Optus since the company’s inception in 1992. We deliver cutting-edge communications services to resellers using one of the largest and most diverse telecommunication networks in Australia; a network that Optus has invested considerable amounts of money to create. Our customers can leverage this investment to create their own competitive offers. Optus benefits from the increased scale this brings. Optus Wholesale provides a range of wholesale communication solutions to other Australian telecommunications carriers, service providers and internet service providers (“ISPs”) including some of the most recognised retail brands in Australia.
3. What additional opportunities do you see for resellers who want to use your products?
Optus has been a consistent and reliable provider of wholesale services. It has been the first to offer a number of product categories on a wholesale basis. These include 3G mobile services and mobile broadband services, amongst others. Right now, we are seeing very strong interest and growth in the area of mobile broadband. A number of resellers with various backgrounds are seeking to exploit the growth in this product category, blended with their core strengths. These might include, for example, the strengths in operational management and the existing customers of ISPs, or the retail strength of a business traditionally focussed on consumer finance. Really, there are boundless opportunities through unique offers and business models.
4. What are some of the challenges they should be aware of?
It’s a competitive market. The most successful players in the wholesale market understand this and focus on their points of difference. They are committed to their resale businesses.
5. What is your prediction for the ISP market in the next 12 months – do you forecast any big changes?
We expect to see continued growth in the fixed and wireless broadband market. As I mentioned, Optus Wholesale is experiencing significant growth in wireless broadband with traditional ISPs using their knowledge, expertise and skills to enter the wireless market. I suspect this will represent just an entrée for ISPs into mobility and might develop with offers based on devices such as netbooks and smart-phones. Their value propositions might expand to include mobile data content, especially in email applications and voice-over-IP (VoIP).
6. What is your stance on ISP content filtering?
Optus confirmed it would participate in the government’s ISP filtering Live Pilot in early 2009. Participation was strictly limited to filtering only the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist which contains URLs of illegal content. The trial operated in a specific geographic area, with customers given the option to ‘opt-out’ of the trial. Optus participated in order to accurately gauge the impact that this type of filtering would have on its network, including download speeds and customer experience