Archive for October, 2008
Charles Arthur of the Guardian and Ian Fogg of Jupiter Research have been posting their thoughts on how the UK broadband industry will fare in an economic downturn. On the face of it, they both make fairly gloomy reading – although the demand for basic consumer broadband will remain, the churn rate (users switching between suppliers, which drives much of the product innovation in the marketplace) will slow down as people move house less. (A house move is known to be a major trigger for people to re-assess their need for, and supplier of, domestic services). But suppliers may be unable to make the capital investment needed to deliver the next-generation services currently planned – BT’s 21CN is at risk, as is their recently-announced FTTC/FTTH initiative.
We’ll also see the end of loss-leader offers and unprofitable services will be replaced by more openly-priced straightforward offerings. In addition, the penny-watching consumer will be able to work out that a free laptop which is contingent on a 24-month mobile broadband contract at £45/month isn’t free at all, and isn’t even the cheapest way to buy the laptop – seeing the end of these complex offers.
My view is that we’ll see a return to basic value-for-money offerings, which will probably lead to more consolidation in the market as smaller providers find it more and more difficult to differentiate their services. Some of the larger operators will pick up some bargains in the shape of the customer base and/or the network assets of their smaller competitors.
Not good news for those whose livelihood is dependent on the continuous innovation and capital investment in the broadband industry.
I’m feeling distinctly grumpy today. For reasons which I won’t go into (I might elsewhere, but it would detract from the point of this post), I’m unable to travel to Jamaica next week for a planned trip to indulge in my hobby of ham radio contesting. This makes me unhappy.
Call it middle-class guilt if you wish, but reading other Blog Action Day posts has been a humbling experience. To even be able to consider making a trip such as the one I’ve just had to cancel puts me so high up in the 99th percentile of well-off people in the world that it’s almost obscene. Sure, there are plenty of people better off than me, but huge numbers much, much worse.
I can’t fix world poverty. But I can do something positive. I’m off to kiva.org to make some microfinance loans to entrepreneurial people in less well-off areas to help them get local businesses off the ground.
What are you doing?