Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Trends | 900 dial-up numbers in Jordan

The spread of pay-as-you-go Internet dial-up services in Jordan is gathering pace this summer, with independent operators emerging to compete with the traditional ISPs.

TE Data started this trend last year, followed by Wanadoo, Batelco, Next Internet; and now, we've got other companies partnering with media to introduce special numbers.

For example, a daily newspaper now offers its readers a 900-xxxx number to log onto the Internet, paying 2 piasters per minute.

This promotion does not carry any branding by an ISP, and is the latest twist in marketing telecommunication services.

What's happening is that telecom services companies obtain ISP licensing with the aim to partner with other organizations to promote the numbers under their names to their clients. Then, they split the revenue.

The question is whether or not the dial-up market in Jordan is lucrative enough for all these pay-as-you-go ventures.

Apparently, it still is. In the age of ADSL (broadband), the majority of users in the country are still dial-up users, especially at home.

Some sources say that we've got a dial-up market estimated at 150 million minutes a month. That's a massive number of minutes.

Some of these service providers could grab a 10% share of that market, multiplied by 2 piasters a minute, and you begin to realize how much money is involved.

But, to be fair to ISPs, Jordan Telecom gets the lion's share of the 2 piasters, as it handles the lines, invoicing and collection.

As some sources have told me, the amount left to the ISP is around 80 fils, which can also be split with a marketing partner- such as in the case of the newspaper mentioned before.

Anyway, what's interesting amidst this "900 dial-up" craze is to sit for a minute and calculate how these services compare to a regular, unlimited dial-up account which nowadays sells for around JD120 a year- which is JD10 a month.

If you use the Internet 2 hours a day, for 20 days a month, then you end up JD48 a month with these 900 dial-up services. That's nearly five times as much the monthly cost of an annual dial-up subscription.

And all of this, just because you don't want to make an upfront, annual commitment.

Of course, some users will argue that they don’t want to use the Internet that long, but just want the luxury o checking their email any place, any time and once in a while. In that sense, these services are purely a convenience, but a long-term means of accessing the Internet.

Looking to the future, one has to wonder how many people will still need to dial-up with the wide-spread adoption of ADSL in Jordanian businesses and homes, and the ability to connect free in Wi-Fi public zones.

For now, though, and for a few more years yet, a 900 dial-up number seems like a reasonable proposition.



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