Get Everyone Connected!

Now , the Telcos have a very good reason to tell those who have yet to subscribe to a broadband connection… PRONTO!

The reason? The Advent of Relevant Commerce Content.

Low Internet Penetration and the Social-Entertainment Basis of Connection
Based on recent statistics (hopefully, accurate data), there are about 9 million internet users in the Philippines. Majority of these users are hooked up via corporate LANs (quite a number of netizens are call center agents who are voracious consumers of online time and content) and internet cafes.

The important thing, now, is to get people to get their own internet connection… small businesses, most especially, to spur demand for subscription.

The Telcos must look beyond offering promotional discounts to lure new subscribers or to entice dial-up subscribers to upgrade to a broadband service. This tack does not create customer lock-in. Loyalty will be only as good as the next cheaper offering. The only lock-in created by this tactic is the 1 year or 2 year non-cancellation clause which telcos normally demand from new subscribers. Telcos will see increased sales, at the least, but will not create that needed stickiness to have long-time, satisfied customers.

The creation of commerce-driven value-add services that sit on top of broadband offerings will supply the adhesive needed to root customers firmly with the telcos. Broadband connection providers must find ways to go beyond the usual fare of “social” and “entertainment” reasons driving the need to go online (your usual emailing, chatting – through Yahoo and MSN, Friendster, file sharing, bitttorrent downloads, Youtube viewing, etc.).

Let us slightly shift the paradigm, and turn the messaging around to something like… “Start a business for only P775 a month….” Will we get attention?

Allow People to Earn while Online
Let’s take a look at my favorite example — eBay.

I have encountered a considerable number of members — enterprising Mothers, Students, Employees (some of whom quit their day job to be eBayers full-time!), and, yes, the Unemployed —- who have devoted a great number of hours online managing their budding and growing online business or “sidelines” through eBay. From mere pre-paid dial-up internet cards, they, without the prodding from the telco giants, saw the need to upgrade their connection speed in order to more efficiently and effectively go about buying and selling their wares online.

The upgrade will come naturally since with an eBay business, one would need to: upload pictures, create new item listings (and relisting), constantly monitor email inquiries, leave feedback, participate in the forum, sending out invoices. This multi-tasking environment demands faster connection if you need to get things done quickly (so that you’ll have time for your other chores like washing the dishes, going out to have coffee with friends…).

There are also those individuals or small groups of people with similar interests who put up their own online presence via WordPress or Multiply. A site called Kikay Exchange, started as a hobby to a band of merry women, mesmerized by the calling of anything “kikay” (Filipino-term denoting the whims and caprices of the female gender). Now, it has grown to be a veritable community with very avid following. I am sure most of those who have visited the site come back for more as different contributors post articles about the latest Mall Sale, Make-up Tips, newest Spa in town, where to get bargain shoes, etc. I believe the next step for these entrepreneuring ladies would be to offer online shopping for their community of users. All these from just the price of an internet connection and a PC.

Possibly, the Last Mile…
The not-yet-so-ubiquitous PC.

Even if prices of broadband connectivity go down to levels that are quite affordable to more people, the cost of acquiring and owning a PC in the Philippines is still a barrier to entry to the online world. If we can find ways to make these PC’s more affordable, at least, to the small business owner or to someone who has saved up P15,000, then we will have something to look forward to.

I can only cite the following, which will hopefully help in increasing internet users in the country:

  • Intel or AMD, together with Microsoft,

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