A report by Jupiter Research has suggested that a ‘two tier’ Internet could come into place in the near future. It would enable ISP’s to charge businesses for quicker access to consumers. This is bad news for the customer for two reasons: first that trend could be reversed and second that trend WOULD be reversed when the business passed on the costs to the end-user.
This idea of charging stems from the basic economies of scale operating within the broadband business. In the UK, over 65% of households have a computer, with a high percentage in that bracket having high-speed home Internet access. To keep their margins, ISP’s must continually have new customers, as well as offer a low price – high service deal. Naturally, this is a difficult balance to maintain. This would mean that charging consumers (or businesses, whichever way you see it) would be a potential area for more revenue.
This whole idea can have a massive impact on the use of the web, if allowed to go ahead. The group of early adopters who are most likely to be using P2P downloads, online gaming and VOIP services will take a hit. Their bandwidth, or the bandwidth of the services they subscribe to may be ‘managed’ to such a degree that they are no longer very attractive.
The other issue with the idea of pricing is that, for me at least, it flies in the face of what the Internet (or rather the web) is about. You can sum it up in a word. Freedom. Here in the West we may take it for granted, but over in China even Google restricts access to ‘undesirable material’. The very idea that I might have not access, or rather might have slower access to a particular site or service is a slap in the face both to me and the services and sites that I have interest in.
I am a businessman and I accept the limitations of every business, including my own. We do what we do of course to make money. However, there are so many different sources of revenue available here that to attack the people you owe your livelihood to (your customers) would seem like a huge backward step. With that in mind, how can you keep your customers happy and continue providing a high quality service, whilst making more money?
If you run an ISP, why not try some of these ideas:
1) Run your own content rich, portal style site, such as Yahoo.
2) Not everyone has the resources of MSN/Microsoft. What can you offer to be individual?
3) Broadband has pretty tight margins and once someone has your service provided they’re happy they are likely to stay. Can you enrich their experience with say extra paid for content (or affiliate links) rather than penalise them for using your service?
Just a few thoughts to consider for those ISP entrepreneurs out there…