Aussie broadband value: stagnant or stingy?

Whilrpool's 2007 survey respondents cant see value in broadband, ISP level filtering or Telstra. But VoIP and FttN for rural Aussies get thumbs up

Australian Internet users feel broadband value has not improved over the past twelve months, according to Whirlpool's 2007 Australian Broadband Survey, released this week.

Among the survey's key findings, 50% of those surveyed felt broadband value remained stagnant over the past 12 months, while 30% felt value for money had taken a turn for the worse - up from 9.5% and 19.4% in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

A meagre 16.8% felt broadband value had improved in 2007.The biggest qualm respondents held against their ISPs was that their providers can change their contract conditions at any time.

Excessive pricing was the reason more than half of Telstra (77.4%), Internode (64.4%), Westnet (63%), TSN (53.4%) and Unwired (53.8%) customers cited for leaving their ISP, while low download limits, poor customer service and a desire for higher download speeds all contributed significantly to customers switching their ISP.

The most prevalent problems associated with broadband installations was the phone line not being activated properly, or the ISP "blaming Telstra for some reason".

Unsurprisingly, fast speeds and the ability to download large amounts of data were the top two most important items on customer's broadband wish list.

Respondents made it brutally clear that they do not want Telstra to be responsible for next generation Internet access technologies, such as Fibre-to-the-Node, with more people saying they "don't know" who should be responsible for it rather than opting for Telstra. The majority (51.9%) felt it should be in the hands of the government.

But an overwhelming 13,411 people out of the 17,881 who undertook the survey do not support the government meddling in mandatory ISP filtering. Only 2,325 people indicated support for ISP level filtering.

However, the Rudd government did win approval on its pledge to provide rural and regional Australians with exactly the same broadband access as those in metropolitan areas, with 69% supporting the policy.

According to the survey VoIP is continuing to increase in popularity. More people (36.6%) are using their broadband connections to make phone calls than ever before, with 34.4% saying they use VoIP exclusively as their main telephone service.

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Andrew Hendry

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