Tiscali's 150K service goes through roof

Take-up 'extremely good'

Take-up of Tiscali UK's new 150K ADSL service has rocketed, according to newly appointed chief exec Mary Turner.

Although it's only little over a week since the product was launched - and three weeks since she took up her new post - Ms Turner appears in little doubt that this cut-price ADSL product is going to prove popular with punters.

She refuses to reveal exact figures but insisted: "Take-up has been very good, extremely good."

What's more, she reported that even at this early stage demand for the 150K service has not damaged take-up of Tiscali's faster ADSL services. It appears that punters are happy with an ADSL service that is always-on, frees up the phone line, is three times faster that a standard dial-up connection but is also priced competitively with flat-fee unmetered narrowband services.

And she's perplexed at the ongoing debate in the UK about how speed fits into the broadband equation, especially after last week's intervention from BT. In a dig clearly aimed at Tiscali, BT said in a statement: "For clarity, BT's definition of broadband is a connection of 500Kbps or more. Some other providers are currently claiming mid-band connections as broadband and these are not able to provide the same Internet experience for customers."

Contrary to BT's clarification, Ms Turner believes that as long as the speed is clearly labelled, then the 150K service can be promoted as broadband. What's more, she is convinced that the 150K service will provide a bridge between traditional dial-up Net access and broadband.

Not only have end users been banging on Tiscali's door, it seems other operators have also voiced their interested in the product too. So would Tiscali provide its 150K service - which makes use of its own network - on a wholesale basis to its competitors?

"Absolutely," Ms Turner told The Register.

Which chimes with one of the points that Ms Turners refers to throughout the interview - that Tiscali isn't just a consumer Internet brand. Its B2B business provides wholesale products to other operators and is the back-end of more than 500 virtual ISPs. And it's also got a voice business buoyed recently by the acquisition of NPower's voice business.

Put all this together and Tiscali UK has started to make the numbers work. Last year, for example, it became EBITDA (earnings before interest etc) positive while earlier this year the company became cash positive, making Tiscali UK the third largest contributor to the Tiscali Group as a whole.

But Ms Turner admits that it hasn't been easy. The last 24 months or so has proved to be a "challenging" period during which the ISP has had to manage the integration of three ISPs (World Online, LineOne and LibertySurf) into one operational outfit.

The ISP has been dogged with headlines about job losses and consumer complaints about incorrect billing, although she insists that this period of "consolidation and integration" has now been completed.

"We've now got a stable company that is solid and profitable," she said. And with around 1.4 million Net access punters and 250 employees, Tiscali UK now looks set to make a bit more noise in the marketplace. The launch of its 150K ADSL service - whether you regard it as broadband or not - could well help it do that. ®

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