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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

To any Plusnet official reps.

Zen openly state that at peak times, their network struggles to reach 60% utilisation. How much of the Plusnet network is utilised at peak times?Huh
15 REPLIES
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

A question for Plusnet re utilisation

Hi,

We utilise our central pipes to the maximum because at £1.7m per year for a 622Mbps central pipe because we don't believe there is any sense in handing over our customers' hard earned money just to have empty unused pipes. It just doesn't make sense.

Regarding Zen, I would be very surprised if their network still operates at a maximum of 60% capacity, to my knowledge they haven't comment on this in public for several months. It isn't that long since they switched to Capacity Based Charging (CBC) and keep 40% of your centrals unused under CBC is financial suicide.

If you take a look at the Zen forums you'll notice that they are starting to see increased load balancing and peak time problems on at least one of their gateways. Assuming they have a mix of 622 and 155Mbps pipes then they pattern of what they are currently seeing is almost identical to what we saw last year when we had a mix of 622 and 155Mbps pipes and utilisation reached 85%.
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

This may indeed be the case dtomlinson, but I don't see a package on PlusNet that is priced at £34.99 for an unmetered, non-traffic shaped, uncapped 2Mb broadband link. This makes perfect since since customers who choose to go with Zen are probably going to get a very high speed and uncongested connection with an ISP that can afford to run their pipes at less than full capacity. For some consumers, this is what they need/want. As far as I'm concerned, whilst PN sit at a price bracket of £21.99 for up to 2Mb speeds, you will not be able to supply this.

I'm not saying this is bad. For what PlusNet is offering market wise, it's great value for money and your statement above ...

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... we don't believe there is any sense in handing over our customers' hard earned money just to have empty unused pipes. It just doesn't make sense.


... I do agree with. However, if Zen are charging such high rates though, they obviously have great scope to bring in more bandwidth when the point arrives and be comfortable about doing this. As far as I can see, PlusNet has not been able to place itself in this position which is why you enforce traffic shaping and SUPs on your customers and forcing heavy users to move on (by limiting their speeds in the worst case).

Feel free to correct me if any of the above is inaccurate.
LiamM
Grafter
Posts: 5,636
Registered: 12-08-2007

A question for Plusnet re utilisation

As Dave said, a number of people have begun to complain that the unrestricted, unthrottled connection you quote isn't quite so.

I would certainly expect a service FAR more superior to PN at that price. And it seems that they too are beginning to experiencing capacity issues.
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

The latest I hear is that Zen have made a purchase from Ellacoya.

Quite what this purchase is, what it is intended for, I don't know.

but given the market Ellacoya is in, I would personally be asking Zen in public to confirm or deny the reports.

Just to make certain:
WARNING
Those remarks are based totally of 3rd party, though reportedly from inside information. I do trust the report, but it still needs the good old "give Zen a change to reply" treatment.

I would ask on ADSL Guide myself, but I don't like that forum right now, given the amount of people purposfully coming over to the PlusNet forum to goad.

[edit]
It looks like somebody has previous raise the question already [HERE]
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

All I know is that I've had a 1mb Zen home account for over a year, as well as the plusnet thing and I have had no reduction in service with Zen. Always fast and true, consistent on torrents so I'm more than happy to move my plusnet account to them. Ellocoyas are worrying, but somehow I can't see Zen making a laughing stock out of themselves like this lot have.
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

look what ive just seen on iSONEWS

Wink

Premier.Unlimited-PLUSNET *NUKED* Fake

Premier.Unlimited *PROPER* -ZEN



Cheesy
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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This may indeed be the case dtomlinson, but I don't see a package on PlusNet that is priced at £34.99 for an unmetered, non-traffic shaped, uncapped 2Mb broadband link.


Indeed not, but the question I ask of you is what does the extra £240 per year buy you that you don't get on Broadband Plus or the extra £156 per year buy you that you don't get on Broadband Premier?

Yes, you'll likely see faster P2P speeds at peak (or all the time compared to Plus), you can download more than 100GB every single month, but these aren't the things that are the most important factor for the majority.

Only a small minority of customers use P2P and Usenet on a regular basis, yet these 2 things represent about 50% of the traffic on our network. From the traffic graphs we can see that 1am is probably the highest point for Usenet, P2P is about the same all day, so most people that use P2P and usent are happy to just set their downloads going overnight and know they'll be done the next day.

You might ask where I'm going with this. I just ask you think about different types of customer and which ISP would be in their shopping list. If you're someone whose usage means you are going to be downloading 100GB or more every single month, you aren't going to be looking at us, but you would look at Zen. If however you are like 98% of the UK's Internet users and want fast browsing, email, chat, gaming, usenet (text), a little P2P, a little usenet (binary), VPN, VoIP, etc. then you are more likely going to have us near the top of the list.

Why is this? Because unmetered, uncapped, and unlimited have no meaning to you if you either never get anywhere near to the "limits", it's worth repeating that 90% of our customer use less than 10GB per month in total. Plus the industry has skewed the meaning of these words. Have you seen the recent Tiscali unlimited adverts? Yet they have a fair usage policy.
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

some very valid points there, but everyone knows that tiscrapi and no other isp can possibly do unlimited for 14.99 and steer well clear Smiley
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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Indeed not, but the question I ask of you is what does the extra £240 per year buy you that you don't get on Broadband Plus or the extra £156 per year buy you that you don't get on Broadband Premier?


A very valid point Dave. Unfortunately, I'm one of the select few (according to BT) who are not able, at the moment, to get any speed faster than half meg on my line. So in my particular case, an extra £3 pm (that's the Home 500 package from Zen at £24.99 compared to premier with PN at £21.99) I get an unlimited, uncapped, non-traffic shaped connection with 8 IPs thrown in as standard. This doesn't really break the bank for me (an extra £36 a year) and I'll most likely be on an uncongested network infrastructure with free capacity to spare without having to worry about watching the "my usage" tool to see how much bandwidth I'm using.

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Yes, you'll likely see faster P2P speeds at peak (or all the time compared to Plus), you can download more than 100GB every single month, but these aren't the things that are the most important factor for the majority.


I agree to an extent. Like another post on here that I saw, this is like choosing what car you want to drive. If the traffic on the UK roads wasn't so abysmal these days, you either choose to buy a 4 gear Corsa (with a top speed of 80 mph if you're lucky) or a top of the range Lotus which can do more than 200 mph and remains glued to the road even on the tightest corners. Some people need/want a car that they can just jump in and go and get to their destination quickly and comfortable. Some people want to be able to turn on their PCs and download that 4Gb bit-torrent file when they want, at full speed, with no restrictions. Some people are willing to pay for such quality and that's just the way the world is.

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Only a small minority of customers use P2P and Usenet on a regular basis, yet these 2 things represent about 50% of the traffic on our network. From the traffic graphs we can see that 1am is probably the highest point for Usenet, P2P is about the same all day, so most people that use P2P and usent are happy to just set their downloads going overnight and know they'll be done the next day.


Why don't you approach your superious if you know the statistics and formulate a package which can deal with this small minority? A suitable package for heavy users priced appropriately? I'm guessing they will not be interested though since, like you say, if that's the type of user a customer is, then they should not be with PlusNet. I agree with you.

But this then leads me to my next point. Why have I seen numerous posts in here where people have signed up to the service only to then realise that it is not what they expected. Hence they then decide to migrate and they get stung with additional costs. I've not looked at the marketting spiel on the website recently but it would suggest that PlusNet markets its products, not on false claims, but rather withholding key fundamental points about the packages supplied only for the customer to then signup and then realise the full story about what they have just bought and to ultimately realise that PN are the wrong ISP for them. This is like me going to buy a Lotus (without test driving it) only to find out it has a Corsa 1 litre engine under the bonnet and a 4 gear speed box with a top speed of 80mph - not actually what I want or need).

I don't see this as fair and maybe is one of the moral reasons why people will pay £200 more a year for an ISP that doesn't play antics like this and change it's T&Cs every 2 minutes. This, of course, is not your problem to deal and such decisions are most likely made by PN's marketting gurus. Personally, I prefer to go with an ISP that "does exactly what it says on the tin" and Zen appear to do this by supplying a no frills connection with no catches.

Other than the above, I totally agree with everything you've said Dave so no hard feelings! PlusNet is a good value ISP but I think the company does need to re-think how it markets its products and how it does its marketting in general because bad marketting can lead to unhappy customers and unhappy customers leads to a bad image - and, I personally think, just now, PlusNet has a bad image (and they've only got themselves to blame for that).
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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If you're someone whose usage means you are going to be downloading 100GB or more every single month, you aren't going to be looking at us,


Even when you advertised your services as unlimited and unrestricted last year? It was the one and ONLY reason I looked at Plus Net back then.

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...If however you are like 98% of the UK's Internet users and want fast browsing, email, chat, gaming, usenet (text), a little P2P, a little usenet (binary), VPN, VoIP, etc. then you are more likely going to have us near the top of the list.


This is the first honest and accurate statement I've read on these forums regarding the current debacle with FUPs, SUPs, T&Cs blah, blah, blah.

You know, if Plus Net had been up front and honest about this at the outset and actually said this in plain terminology that everyone could understand i.e. "If you are a heavy bandwidth user we really don't want you as a customer. Please look elsewhere and we'll give you a free migration." You'd have had a great deal more respect from a lot of people. It's plainly obvious that this is what's been happening. Why do marketing and sales people always think their customers are stupid?
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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A very valid point Dave. Unfortunately, I'm one of the select few (according to BT) who are not able, at the moment, to get any speed faster than half meg on my line.


That doesn't mean it will always be the case. There are currently trials ongoing of ADSL2+ and Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) which first will allow for faster speeds but will increase increase the reach of speeds like 1 and 2Mbps. So today you might not be able to see any faster than 512 but that doesn't mean it will always be the case.


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... I'll most likely be on an uncongested network infrastructure with free capacity to spare without having to worry about watching the "my usage" tool to see how much bandwidth I'm using.


I do have to wonder if this will always be the case. And here's why, if you run your network without any kind of network management then when you get to around 85% utilisation, especially if you have a mix of 155 and 622Mbps pipes, your network will start to see some problems, i.e. some of your customers will see a little slowdown and as an ISP you have to balance, i.e. disconnect your customers, your network. This is just down to the way the pipes are set up especially 155's because you can easily fill up one or two tunnels of a 155 and have the rest running below capacity. Only the people on the two full tunnels see any slowdown, and disconnecting will probably put them on a different pipe. But at 85% utilisation you'll see something like that most days. Get to 90% and it'll be every day and be several tunnels.

Now you can say, just run below 85% utilisation, but how much does that cost. If you have two 622Mbps you're paying £3.4m per year, so by having less than 85% utilisation you've effectively got a whole 155Mbps segment costing £400k sat idle. Get to five 622's and it's effectively three segments sat idle costing £1.2m per year.

The other reason I put forward is what's going to happen when MaxDSL becomes available? As I think we are in agreement an ISP like Zen is going to attract the heavier users, so if they were to offer an unlimited 8Mbps account then I think it's fair to say that it would attract some people who would download 1TB or more month in, month out. There's posts on ADSLGuide from people saying they would do just this and more if they could. They won't be in the majority, they will likely make up a tiny minority but the costs on CBC of providing just a handful of customers with that sort of service are just too prohibative.

It takes just 20 customers downloading 24/7 on 8Mbps to completely fill a 155Mbps segment. That works out at £20,000 per customer per year. I know that the light users will balance out the heavy users, but how many 1,000's of light customers are needed to balance out just 20?

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If the traffic on the UK roads wasn't so abysmal these days, you either choose to buy a 4 gear Corsa (with a top speed of 80 mph if you're lucky) or a top of the range Lotus which can do more than 200 mph and remains glued to the road even on the tightest corners. Some people need/want a car that they can just jump in and go and get to their destination quickly and comfortable.


Indeed, while others are happy to catch the nighttrain and do the travelling while they sleep. The error in that analogy is that the person with the Lotus is not only paying more to have the Lotus (i.e. higher subscription) but also paying more in petrol, insurance and running costs, so you can kind of think of them being on a PAYG style account. The more you drive and the faster you drive the more it costs you the customer, whereas on fixed cost broadband the more bandwidth you use and the quicker you use it the more it costs the ISP.

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Some people want to be able to turn on their PCs and download that 4Gb bit-torrent file when they want, at full speed, with no restrictions. Some people are willing to pay for such quality and that's just the way the world is.


Indeed it is, but it's that type of traffic and the massive growth overall in P2P that is the key issue. P2P traffic on our network is now around 1Gbps all the time, Usenet peaks at around 500Mbps, it's this massive growth, and massive growth from a tiny percentage of customers that is what's at issue. Services like video on demand, IPTV and VoIP are all either starting up or already here and these are service we expect to grow. What we can't do is continue to allow traffic like P2P to continue to grow at the exponential levels it has been.


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Why don't you approach your superious if you know the statistics and formulate a package which can deal with this small minority? A suitable package for heavy users priced appropriately? I'm guessing they will not be interested though since, like you say, if that's the type of user a customer is, then they should not be with PlusNet. I agree with you.


We've looked at such an account, but the pricing (£300+ per month) would mean that no-one would subscribe, Demon used to do one, not sure if they still do though.

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But this then leads me to my next point. Why have I seen numerous posts in here where people have signed up to the service only to then realise that it is not what they expected. Hence they then decide to migrate and they get stung with additional costs.


It costs us money to activate an ADSL line (£40+VAT, used to be £50+VAT) and it costs to migrate a service (£11+VAT). Any costs paid are only to recover what we have spent and these prices are clearly marked in the signup pages.
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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The latest I hear is that Zen have made a purchase from Ellacoya.

Quite what this purchase is, what it is intended for, I don't know.

but given the market Ellacoya is in, I would personally be asking Zen in public to confirm or deny the reports.


Well that was done and here is an official reply


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Also I sit opposite the chap who designed the Zen network and he says that we will spend the money that would be used buying such kit improving the network to take the extra load rather than spend the money restricting access to the network.

And the link was given in your original post linking to the kit you seem to think we have purchased (which again we have not, nor have we purchased any kit from that manufacturer).


We are not using Ellacoya kit

We have not bought ellacoya kit.

we are not looking at buying ellacoya kit


Well I have not been shy with the truth, I have said several times now that we do not and have not bought ellacoya kit. I am not trying to steer the thread elsewhere, if I were I would not post mostly about the topic at hand.

Time will tell exactly the same as the present.. We havn't bought any Ellacoya's

And I am still intrigued to know where you heard we had bought these boxes..

---
Graeme Hinchliffe (LinkoVitch)
Core Systems Designer
Zen Internet Ltd



So there you have it...from the horse's mouth..so to speak!
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A question for Plusnet re utilisation

£20k per customer Dave? Well, this is where I have to wonder exactly how the price of bandwidth is "calculated". And the problem PN (and other ISPs) ultimately face just now is BT. Whilst BT may charge you (PN) £3.4m a year for a 622Mb central pipe, personally, I think that is quite utterly ludicrous. What is the ISP paying for for that size of central pipe? Is it the technology and switching fabric which allows that kind of speed? In any case, over the next decade, the price of such pipes and the technology is going to decrease anyway just as, for example, 80Gb hard disk drives used to cost thousands - now they are £30 quid a shot.

I am aware from speaking to Zen that MaxDSL should allow me 1-2Mb speeds. But they also informed me that, when that does happen (and the 8Mb stuff kicks in), there will probably be a price drop on their packages. I’ll wait and see what happens – if it is too pricey or another ISP is out there doing a better deal, I may just switch again.

I think I’m pretty much 4km from the exchange so, as for ADSL2+, I can’t see this making any difference at all. As far as I know, ADSL2+ is only good for people within 2km of their exchange.

FTTC is an option yes, but if BT start doing stuff like that then there is going to be even more requirement for bandwidth as users utilise it all (again, build more roads there will be more cars to fill them up).

PlusNet should be looking 5 years ahead to be honest Dave just like F2S are doing. In the long run, the ultimate goal I can see with broadband is the start of video and TV streaming and that’s probably going to become a 24/7 activity. So, as much as P2P traffic is the real killer for ISPs just now, when all the media technologies start to kick off and you have people watching streamable high-definition TV films on their broadband link (paid for of course), that is when P2P becomes really insignificant in the grand scheme of things and the price of bandwidth will need to drop drastically to accommodate this. Your comment of “1Gb P2P traffic on the PN network” really becomes insignificant. Maybe at this point, the network infrastructure of ISPs will have grown significantly to accommodate this new breed of usage and the entire situation will have changed (for the better). Just taking into account the post above, Zen appear to be investing and growing their network with spare capacity rather than restricting and traffic shaping users. This seems like a sensible route to take – if PN continue the way they are going, their network will not be in a fit state to keep up with the changing usage of broadband and new emerging technologies.

We are in turbulent times Dave, that I admit. At the moment, ISPs are targeting different markets and requirements for users. PN is the “value for money” ISP but is not everyone’s cup of tea. As you probably realise, with the industry PlusNet is in, it really should be trying to analyse where the technology will be in 5-10 years time. Failure to do this could be the kiss of death for the company.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
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Registered: 04-04-2007

A question for Plusnet re utilisation

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£20k per customer Dave? Well, this is where I have to wonder exactly how the price of bandwidth is "calculated".



That particular calculation is done by doing the following

20 customers maxing at 8Mbps 24/7 equates to about 160Mbps of bandwidth.

A 155Mbps central costs about £400k per year, so £400k/20 = £20,000 per customer per year.


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And the problem PN (and other ISPs) ultimately face just now is BT. Whilst BT may charge you (PN) £3.4m a year for a 622Mb central pipe, personally, I think that is quite utterly ludicrous. What is the ISP paying for for that size of central pipe? Is it the technology and switching fabric which allows that kind of speed? In any case, over the next decade, the price of such pipes and the technology is going to decrease anyway just as, for example, 80Gb hard disk drives used to cost thousands - now they are £30 quid a shot.



The cost of the central pipe represents a few things. First, unlike other types of bandwidth it isn't taking traffic from A to B, but rather taking traffic from over 5000 A's to B. The second thing is that it is paying for big network upgrades, the cost of the increased VP's to support the faster speeds is being paid for out of the cost of all the central pipes they flog to the ISP's. The third thing is how the costs of IPStream fit in with Datastream and LLU. To change the cost of one, they need to look at the costs of all three types of service.

Now, we expect reductions in the costs of central pipes and it will be this type of cost reduction that will be in part what's going to allow for the take up of IPTV and such services.


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FTTC is an option yes, but if BT start doing stuff like that then there is going to be even more requirement for bandwidth as users utilise it all (again, build more roads there will be more cars to fill them up).


Depends on how you manage that traffic, build more roads and yes they get filled up. Build toll roads like the M6 bypass and you don't have the congestion, build an extra bus and cycle lane and bikes and buses bypass the queues.

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PlusNet should be looking 5 years ahead to be honest Dave just like F2S are doing. In the long run, the ultimate goal I can see with broadband is the start of video and TV streaming and that’s probably going to become a 24/7 activity. So, as much as P2P traffic is the real killer for ISPs just now, when all the media technologies start to kick off and you have people watching streamable high-definition TV films on their broadband link (paid for of course), that is when P2P becomes really insignificant in the grand scheme of things and the price of bandwidth will need to drop drastically to accommodate this.


We are looking to the future and we are looking to IPTV and the like. These are the sort of thing that 8Mbps will be sold on. But at 8Mbps speeds and certainly 24Mbps speeds streaming video almost becomes bursty traffic and not a constant 24/7 download like P2P. Plus services like multicast will be on the increase and the wholesale cost will come down.

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Your comment of “1Gb P2P traffic on the PN network” really becomes insignificant. Maybe at this point, the network infrastructure of ISPs will have grown significantly to accommodate this new breed of usage and the entire situation will have changed (for the better).


As the industry as a whole moves in that direction then yes the infrastructure will evolve with it, but for today it can't continue to support a tiny percentage of customers' exponential growth of P2P.

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Just taking into account the post above, Zen appear to be investing and growing their network with spare capacity rather than restricting and traffic shaping users. This seems like a sensible route to take – if PN continue the way they are going, their network will not be in a fit state to keep up with the changing usage of broadband and new emerging technologies.


There will be a point where Zen have to use some of that spare capacity, in fact looking at the Zen forum it would appear that is the state now, they may not be restricting or traffic shaping yet, but that doesn't mean that they won't, there's a critical mass point where the level of investment in the network exceeds the revenue, and attracting all the heavy users is only going to make that point ever closer. As I say take a look at the Zen and F2S forums, it's already starting to show.

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We are in turbulent times Dave, that I admit. At the moment, ISPs are targeting different markets and requirements for users. PN is the “value for money” ISP but is not everyone’s cup of tea. As you probably realise, with the industry PlusNet is in, it really should be trying to analyse where the technology will be in 5-10 years time. Failure to do this could be the kiss of death for the company.


Exactly, which is why we are doing the things we are doing at the moment. The industry is changing, broadband is a mass market product, and value for money is a key factor in choosing an ISP. Yes, not everyone will want to be with PlusNet, but for the majority of today's Internet users the accounts we offer are ideal. Lots of P2P and huge amounts of downloads are not the key requirements of the majority and it is the majority that we are creating our accounts for.