Digiweb claims Metro customer gains

27 Sep 2005

Digiweb, which earlier this month launched a 3Mbps broadband service called Metro in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Dundalk, has claimed it secured more than 1,000 new orders in the first fortnight of the service becoming available.

Earlier this month the company introduced the Metro service, offering a bundled solution including broadband, free telephone line rental and free calls between customers. The service – a fusion of cable and wireless access technologies – has the potential to reach a market of 1.3 million people, the company says.

Digiweb’s head of strategic development John Quinn told siliconrepublic.com the 1,000 orders were ahead of plan. “These are real genuine orders. We thought in the first three to four weeks we’d get there but we got there in the first two weeks.”

Of the customers that have signed up for the service, Quinn explained: “We are finding it is a 50-50 split between SMEs and residential. It’s a nice way for it to go. Some business customers have put it in with a fibre connection as a backup for primary internet connection. The original plan was to only have it as a business product but through market research we decided not to do that because the voice revenue potential in the residential market was compelling.

“The interesting thing is that the sales of both our DSL and satellite products have tripled as well. If someone calls from outside the coverage area we can tailor a solution for them.

“3Mbps is the point where speed is no longer the issue in the Irish marketplace, but cost is. The upload is sufficient and download is fast. People are looking at other areas of the food chain such as the new gaming platforms that will come on stream this Christmas.”

Looking at the rest of the broadband marketplace, Quinn said: “Telecoms firms have a responsibility to bring out products that people want. It is ridiculous for a company to say this is our product take it or leave it. It is a responsibility on the telecoms firms to put a package together to meet demand. If consumers see value and your product is correctly priced it will sell. Certainly we did expect good sales of this product and we are happy with the way it has gone.”

On the theory that demand for broadband in Ireland has stagnated, Quinn begs to differ, arguing that there is definitely demand — the only problem is services are not available where people want them. “The fact that we were able to sign up 1,000 orders in two weeks disproves the theory that there is no demand. The problem with DSL is a lot more people want it and can’t get it. Our own sales of DSL have been consistent.

“If you look at what the incumbent is doing there is an element of protecting leased-line revenue that in turn is impacting the DSL product. That will have to change. It doesn’t want to canabilise its own leased-line product but that in turn has the effect of slowing down demand for DSL. It has to protect shareholders and revenue. Eircom makes more money from line-rental costs than it does from call revenue,” Quinn argued.

Taking the competition to Eircom even further, Digiweb is offering to transfer customers’ existing Eircom phone numbers for free to the Metro network, resulting in a saving of €55 in porting charges in an offer that will run until the end of November.

Entry-level retail packages on the new Metro network offer 3Mbps broadband with a full telephony service, free line rental, free voice calls to other Digiweb customers and in excess of 50pc savings on calls to most other locations. It costs €35 per month excl Vat, with the option of a second phone line and phone number for an extra €5 per month.

Enhanced packages include a 4Mbps service with 1Mbps upload with low contention for €90 excl Vat and a 6Mbps download, 2Mbps upload service for €249 excl Vat per month. At the time of launching, the company said it has been engaged in the research and development of Metro for more than a year, combining leading technologies and protocols from the wireless and cable modem industries. For example, at the time of launching the service, the company said Metro is Ireland’s most extensive Docsis 2.0 cable modem system delivered on one of the most advanced licensed wireless platforms available today.

By John Kennedy