Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hard reality of triple play

In the South of the Netherlands, close to Philips turf, the city of Eindhoven, there is the small village Nuenen. Art lovers will recognise it as the place where the painter Vincent van Gogh stayed from 1884 till 1885 and where he painted the church and a cherry tree. In this village a complete fibre net was installed last year. After a period of free use household had to sign up for subscriptions. It was the first public test of triple play competition on a community scale.

The people had a choice between OnsNet, the local net organisation, and the moloch UPC. And there was something to choose. OnsNet offers a triple play connection of internet, telephone and TV/radio for 712 euro a year, while UPC has an introductory subscription for 562 euro; next year the price will go up to 712 euro. Major technical difference is that OnsNet will offer internet access with 10Mb both ways, while UPC will offer 3MB download and 1Mb upload.

So far UPC has lost as the households of Nuenen have massively chosen for OnsNet. This organisation sent out a press release telling that it had contracted 73 percent of the households:
- 5400 households for Internet;
- 6000 households for telephony;
- 5000 households for TV and radio.

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn from this project:
1. This private project (be it subsidised with 800 euro per connection) offers a media service package for the same total as for the separate services;
2. Municipalities should not be the driving forces for fibre networks; they can help in coordinating the demand for the municipal community services.
Cautiously, I would also conclude that people have chosen for the speed of OnsNet and are prepared to pay for speed (WOW 10Mb both ways). Also the tampered service reputation of UPC might have been a factor.

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