Telcos talk up broadband numbers

Leading telecommunications companies and ISPs Telstra, Optus and OzEmail have all released statements to the market indicating increased subscriber numbers for broadband Internet services.

Telstra has announced that it has signed up more than 170,000 customers to its broadband services, with Optus stating that it has 65,000 customers on its broadband books. Meanwhile, OzEmail has announced that it has rolled out ADSL services to South Australia and is running ahead of schedule to roll out services elsewhere in Australia.

Telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said it was about time the major players began spending their marketing dollars on explaining broadband services to the business and consumer market. "We need the push of Telstra's marketing to get broadband off the ground," he said. "It's not enough just to have the exchanges enabled, there needs to be the marketing to go with it. Broadband is a new concept and it needs to be explained to people."

Whether any of the telcos have much to sing and dance about when discussing subscriber numbers is questionable. Budde suggested that Telstra must have done very well in recent months considering its broadband campaign began with technical problems that caused a great deal of anxiety in the market. "They started with broadband a year ago, but most of that year was lost," he said.

Budde said Optus has spent the better part of six years building up its subscriber base for cable services, but has only managed to attract 65,000 users. The telecommunications company, now owned by SingTel, said the launch of new pricing plans should attract significant numbers in the near future.

OzEmail CEO Justin Milne said uptake of the ISP's OzEdsl broadband service has been excellent in its first week of operations in South Australia. The ACT and Northern Territory will follow this week, as will Queensland in early August.

Budde said it is time the local telecommunications industry left its bad history on broadband behind. "I am pretty happy that we have 300,000 subscribers. The market has almost doubled over last year. I think at this rate there is a 60 to 70 per cent chance we can catch the rest of the world," he said.

"This is what we've been waiting for. The infrastructure and pricing are all set in place so it should be a successful 12 months ahead."

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