OzEmail makes waves in big pond

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In its latest move against rival ISP Telstra BigPond, OzEmail seeks more distributors to swell its broadband-in-a-box sales to SMBs.

Stephen Burns, chief operating officer at OzEmail, said the ISP was investigating expanding distributor ranks for its broadband-in-a-box product. OzEmail has been moving the product via direct, retail and OEM partners -- including distributor Lan1 -- since its mid-August release.

“We will be looking to create new relationships with key distributors to deliver this and other future products through the channel,” he said.

Burns said OzEmail planned no direct reseller partnerships. However, the ISP would start a reseller program via some key distributors early in the new year.

Trevor Duff, managing director of OzEmail, said broadband-in-a-box was part of the company's 2004 campaign to head off Telstra with a range of new offerings.

“The number of ISPs Internet users can choose from is now much bigger than a pond -- it's an ocean. To stay at the crest of the wave, ISPs need more than hyped-up marketing,” Duff said.

Burns said broadband-in-a-box had exceeded company expectations to date.

“Going forward, the earnings potential is huge as it is our flagship product for broadband,” he said. “We believe it will be attractive to SOHOs and some SMBs.”

Burns said several thousand new customers were expected for OzEmail's broadband-in-a-box each month. OzEmail expects its broadband sales to gain another 20 percent a month when it releases its own online gaming box in December, he added.

OzEmail's broadband-in-a-box incorporates D-Link hardware and has been selling through retailers such as Harvey Norman, Tandy, Officeworks, Domayne, Toys R Us, Harris Technology and Games Wizards.

“Being in the ISP business, we are more concerned with new subscriptions to our service than with selling hardware. But given the stage in the market, it has been and will be necessary for us to bundle with hardware for some time to come,” Burns said.

Graeme Reardon, national sales manager for networking gear vendor D-Link, said the companies spent six months working on the box. It included D-Link's USB ethernet combo modem “along with a microfilter, and the usual types of cables and things”.

OzEmail and D-Link worked together to make the driver CD easy to use and one point of difference was that customers could choose their ideal plan at home after the purchase, with less pressure, Reardon said.

D-Link, which works with about 50 or 60 different ISPs, had also supplied modems to iPrimus for that ISP's broadband-in-a-box offering, Reardon said.

OzEmail's Duff said in a statement that D-Link was chosen because its product was proven, reliable and met technical, usability and local support requirements.

The ISP has recently been questioned on the reliability of its email service, which, along with that of Telstra and iPrimus, has reportedly suffered lengthy delivery delays and associated technical problems in recent weeks.


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