My parents have ADSL internet and a wireless network! Contrast that to the situation two years ago when almost no one was willing to touch ADSL because of the prohibitively high price. The prices went down earlier this year and, as expected, people started subscribing. So what’s next.
Deregulation is here
Consumers are starting to feel the impact of the deregulation of telecommunications in Jordan. The market is starting to heat up. Five telecom companies have already been licences and nine others waiting in line. It looks like before 2005 is over, we will have a small flood of new telecom services to enjoy (and get confused about).
In a pre-emptive strike, Jordan Telecom launched its Voice over IP based (VoIP) Wainak international calling card, enabling cheaper calling to certain countries. JT has also launched its Livebox service, an internet technology based telephony service that provides subscribers with an additional telephone number and ADSL internet access, ‘free’ unlimited calling between Livebox subscribers (rejoice phone addicts!), a single tariff for local and national calls, discounted mobile calling, per-second charging of international calls as well as online account administration and payment. Although I was hoping to see higher internet speeds announced with the Livebox launch, the announcement is definitely an interesting development. What caught my attention was JT’s promise of a dedicated 24/7 free helpline for the service, staffed by “specially trained” support people.
On another front, Batelco launched what many observers of the telecom market have been expecting: international calling cards. Under the brand name Dunya, Batelco is offering international calls at 7 piasters to a list countries as well as discounted calling to countries not on the list.
The inevitable shift to internet-centric communication is finally happening. When you think about what a service like Skype enables (basically, free international calling) you start to understand that existing telecoms have to adapt, and the new telecoms trying to figure out how they can use the new technology to gain market share. In short, the internet has disrupted the world of telecom and we are witnessing the start of the shift in Jordan.
What about faster DSL?
Broadband internet is at the center of the second internet revolution the world is witnessing today. I just came back from a trip to Germany and was quite amazed on how fierce the competition and promotion around DSL services is in that market. The entry level DSL service being offered is 2 Mbit/sec (ie 2000 kilobits/sec). Offers for 6 Mbit DSL are becoming commonplace. The new catchphrase in Germany is “flat rate”, meaning that DSL services are being made available that are not bound by time or download volume limitations.
In places like Singapore, 10Mbit and 25Mbit connections are being offered to residential customers.
Jordan’s ADSL connections currently come in 3 flavours: 128, 512, and 1024 kbps. Subscribers who download more that a certain amount of data per month get their connection switched down to a lower speed. Clearly then, the next step should be the introduction of 2 Mbit and, dare we says, 4Mbit ADSL connections. It would be great if such connection speeds are priced within reach of current ADSL customers to encourage a migration towards faster connections.
I wouldn’t bet on this happening before the end of the year, but with the dynamism in Jordan’s telecom market, I’m keeping my fingers crossed nonetheless.