I found Jo Twist's recent article "Goodbye to a flat rate for broadband?" to be totally preposterous - and, judging by the responses that I received to the forwarded article, so did a great many of my friends.
Her suggestion that a tiered Broadband service would be beneficial because it would reduce consumer broadband consumption is ridiculous and borders on journalistic stupidity when what we need is precisely the opposite. Namely, we need more people to spend more time online more often or risk missing the opportunity to play a leading role in the 'digital future' completely.
Why are we even having this discussion when, as a friend suggested, her focus should be on pressuring businesses, the government and the community at large to catch up with far more advanced broadband countries such as Japan and Korea where the average ADSL service is 6Mbps compared to a humiliatingly low 512Kbps in the UK.
Another friend very intelligently pointed out that tiered broadband pricing would be "like charging people according to how much television they watch... NTL would send you a bill for basic service of £££ and then ADD another £££ for watching 37 hours of CNN, 22 hours of Sky Movies, 12 minutes of Sky One etc..."
The article also wrongly points out that consumers may have a preference for tiered services when NTL's recent experience in this area clearly indicate otherwise. Furthermore, she would be well advised to carry out proper research as there are plenty of other references clearly suggesting that when given the choice consumers overwhelmingly favour flat rate pricing over tiered pricing.
Finally, the article could have been aimed at BT and the government for doing such a poor job at bringing the broadband internet to the masses in the UK - as, for example, Business Week recently did in their September 8 issue with their article "How to get US broadband up to speed" - and thus pressure these institutions to bring us at par with other countries who currently are leaving us in 'broadband dust'. Instead it muddles the issue when consumers wish for nothing else than some journalistic support in their quest for better, faster and cheaper broadband services in the UK.
For easy reference, I have posted your article and this response on my blog at http://alteraxion.typepad.com where I expect further heated commentary from the web community.
The incredibly stupid things that companies do when they cannot get their business right (ie. make money) is to try to find ways to 'squeeze' more money out of their existing customers... A sure way to antagonise even more customers and make sure that fewer take up their offerings.
The fact that UK consumers responded overwhelmingly negatively to NTL's attempt to introduce a tiered service should be a wake up call to all telecom sales and marketing departments to stay well away from such initiatives...
BBC News coverage of the IBC conference in Amsterdam has brought up some interesting information about iTV in Europe.
We feel that as PVR adoption by cable and satellite companies increases, the experience that UK operators have acquired in digital interactive television (iTV) (particularly Sky) will provide them with a significant lead over other players.
It is also worthwhile considering some of this experience combined with features to 'networked' consumer electronics in the home feeding off broadband data from third-party service providers. The online interactive experience is not one that cable and satellite providers have excelled at.
With major retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. already selling more cut-price DVDs, industry experts say it is far from certain whether consumers would be eager to shell out $7 for a DVD movie they can't keep or watch beyond a 48-hour deadline.
According to research firm In-Stat/MDR there are 9.2 million home networks in Canada and the U.S. In a study called “Digital Domicile 2003: Home Networking Goes Hollywood” the research firm predicted that networked entertainment products will drive the next big growth spurt - a trend which would triple the number of home networks to 28 million by the end of 2007.