AAPT plans 'ball-breaker' product launch

AAPT plans 'ball-breaker' product launch

Summary: PowerTel is gearing up to be a critical asset to AAPT as the Telecom New Zealand subsidiary shifts its reliance on fixed line to data and readies to launch what chief executive Paul Broad today said would be a "ball-breaker" consumer product.

TOPICS: Telcos, AAPT, Telstra

PowerTel is gearing up to be a critical asset to AAPT as the Telecom New Zealand subsidiary shifts its reliance on fixed line to data and readies to launch what chief executive Paul Broad today said would be a "ball-breaker" consumer product.

Paul Broad

Paul Broad (Credit: AAPT)

"You'll see we've got some really clever products — two more before Christmas. It'll be very competitive, it will be ball-breaker stuff so to speak," the colourful telco chief told media as AAPT's parent announced a 43.9 per cent fall in full year net profit to AU$324.08 million.

Telecom New Zealand's 2007 acquisition of PowerTel is shaping up to be critical to AAPT's future, in particular for higher margin managed fibre network clients, as its fixed line revenues wane. The buy gave it around a 19 per cent stake in internet service provider, iiNet, which AAPT also has a wholesale agreement with, covering 343 metropolitan exchanges. "It's very exciting," said Broad. "We're finally leveraging our own network."

The only place in Australia that has got fibre to the home is Canberra. And they have got no content. And what do they watch? Porn and parliament. Nothing else.

AAPT chief Paul Broad

2009 was a tough year though, with Broad outlining that "voice was down and data was flat". Fixed line revenues fell dramatically over the past year as 62,000 customers left AAPT. Earnings in the category dropped $60 million from $342 million last year to $282 million this financial year. Revenue from reselling Telstra fixed line services also fell $50 million from $318 million last year to $268 million.

The new focus for the company, which has traditionally been a reseller of fixed line services, will be data, which Broad said he was hopeful would result in improved profitability for the company. "If we don't get the data business and numbers right, we won't be successful. The old voice business we did in the past will not hold the business together," he later told ZDNet.com.au.

AAPT's overall revenues for the 2009 financial year ending 30 June fell 12 per cent from $1.085 billion to $955 million, driven mostly by the large falls in fixed line revenues.

Broad today continued his war of words on the Federal Government's National Broadband Network plan. He said that ADSL2+ technologies attached to copper exchanges already delivered "phenomenal speeds". "We argue a lot; federally, we haven't stretched the limits of what we have got in the ground today," he said, adding that he hoped the government would leave Telstra's copper in the ground.

Broad argued that there was more than enough fibre in the ground and that most people were happy with lower speeds at a lower cost than what the NBN could deliver. He has previously estimated consumers would need to pay $200 per month in order for the NBN to be profitable. As for consumer demand for high speed broadband, Canberra stood out as Australia's only working example and not a shining one, according to Broad.

"The only place in Australia that has got fibre to the home is Canberra. And they have got no content. And what do they watch? Porn and parliament. Nothing else," he said.

Topics: Telcos, AAPT, Telstra

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Clueless - Narrow Vested Interests

    Broad does not have a clue. They should not let him out in public.
  • All bullshit from a blah blah Broad

    Yeah this AAPT is a joke because all their managers from top down are just like Broad, a crock of shit without any clues. You've got to work for them to know how bs and stupid those people are. They employed only friends and relatives and set up a gang culture there. I would be happy to see them nose diving.

    [Editor's note: This comment was initially labelled as being from former AAPT staffer Sean Livingstone. ZDNet.com.au has verified that this is not the case. Any further malicious comments impersonating Sean will be deleted.

    Cheers, Renai LeMay, News Editor]
  • No metion of terrible profit result ????

    Is the media that gullible that they digest Broad's fun comments but don't grill him ont he pathetic fiancials the company is producing ???
    $100m waster on Hyperbaric , declining revenues and profits - this company would have to be the biggest joke in the Telco world.
    AAPT has consistenly over promises and under achieved on nearly every KPI I can think of.
    They run the place like TNZ, but haven't yet realise this is not Kiwi country where they have a sahred Monopoly with Telstra.
  • Another happy PowerTel customer

    We've used PowerTel for voice and data for over 4 years in our small business. Price and reliability has been excellent.
  • AAPT have problems but Broad's NBN comment is true

    Yes, AAPT have loads of problems:
    - hopeless accounting change-over;
    - breaches of TPA (package offer not available to existing customers);
    - no weekend phone answering;
    - poorly-designed IVR system (forces you to answer lots of questions before telling you no-one is there to answer the calls in any department);
    - no email address given anywhere on web-site, even though a major part of its business is email handling ('Why is it always hardest to communicate with a communications company?');
    - an alleged ability to "manage your account" yet no way to freeze usage on a mobile phone stolen or lost on a Friday night, until Monday morning;
    mobile phone....

    But Telecom NZ have never made any money in Oz, but persevere with AAPT helping create competitive pressure for Telstra, so all Aussies ought be grateful.

    Broad's comment that the NBN must cost a lot more per month than most consumers would pay IS a valid comment. Having government pay $1-3b to supplement internet offerings in areas poorly serviced (like the existing satellite broadband plan) is wise and worthwhile. But 20x that amount DEMANDS a full Cost/Benefit analysis.

    As I have commented previously on ZDnet, and discussed with Turnbull a fortnight ago, the major users of high bandwidth internet access in Japan and S Korea are gamers and downloaders... But spending long hours (man-months?) lost in interactive gaming or watching movies actually represents potential losses to national productivity (though pollies for millennia have seen benefits in circuses for the masses, etc).

    I argued to Turnbull that the IT driver for national productivity are (a) near-universal access (not speed) and (b) a uniform email 'inbox' (mail redirection with copy held) for every citizen/taxpayer. These allow all government departments to do away with all snail mail... how quick you deliver the resultant emails has little effect on productivity, but getting rid of the paper is the big issue.

    A 10% return on $43b needs revenue of $4.3b pa, and there are about 4.3m households in Australia above the poverty line, so that is $100/month if 100% take-up is achieved, or $200/month with a more realistic 50% take-up... and those figures are in 'present dollars' and ignore costs to maintain the network. But the big question is what would drive half the households to from paying $30/month for ADSL2+ to pay $200+/month for the NBN. And would those families really also pay $50-100+/month for Foxtel/Austar as well as $200 for the NBN?

    And don't get confused with 'highways' as concrete bridges last 50-100 years with little maintenance, whereas Cisco switches need replacing every 5-10 years!
  • Good business needs initiatives not trivials & gossips

    While Broad et al are really good at telling sci-fi stories they are quite hopeless when it comes to action plans. Hyperbarics, migration campaigns, mid range DSL, and now "the ball breaker plan". Let see what else they are going to manufacture in the coming months? Once Broad dubbed Powertel as the black sheep, now it's becoming pivotal? Soon Broad will need to find himself a new employment if it keeps going that way. Hard to have good ideas, the talk is always cheap. Get real and start deliver your promises Broad et al !!
  • PowerTel no longer exists as a company

    As far I understand it is NOW 1 company called AAPT
  • Agreed.

    The comment above by Graeme Harrison is very interesting.

    Thanks for the read!
  • Show people you can do stuffs

    Whatever name it is just need to show people that you are able to run a business rather than bluffing, lying, and cheating mate
  • Powertel is gone mate!!

    What was Telecom NZ thinking when they appointed the Powertel cronies who where managing a company staff of 350 people to over 2000 people and an international carrier?

    Instead of driving the company forward with some sort of direction they micro mange thier staff and drive em nutts.
    A certain engineering manager manages by bullying his staff, what he say's goes even if its wrong! He even didnt know that the company had international link's, good to see he knows the business :) not!

    Heys guys Powertel is gone and has been deregistered on ASX build a bridge and move on, and stop answering the phones as Powertel!!! its AAPT.
    And AAPT didnt almost go bust twice like Powertel did thank your lucky stars on TVG hey guys....
    So Paul when you moving on to be mayor of Newcastle and take your bozo crew with you?
  • You are so damn right mate !!

    Reality check :
    *In AAPT 99.9 % of their managers are good for nothing but bluffing kinda stuffs
    * Staffs in AAPT beat their managers all the time in terms of knowledge/behavioral stuffs
    * Management is non existent in AAPT. Nothing but bullying, nepotism & croynism

    TNZ is so stupid in appointing Broad and his mates to run AAPT. They are not running the place, they are ruining it

    Bleak future ahead my friends ...
  • Cowboy show

    Broad's comments are so vulgar. How could a person with such shallow views be appointed CEO ? No wonder AAPT's business so messy.
  • AAPT Whingers

    Guys, If you dont like working for the company... QUIT!

    Stop having a whinge.
  • Not all doom and gloom

    I know someone who work in aapt. Its not all bad. They are even hiring in tough time.
  • Getting on your nerve bro !!

    If you are "one of them" (translate : one of the mobsters) then life would be rosy for you in aapt. Rather than that better QUIT mates. A real messy place where law of the jungle rules !!
  • Down the drain

    It doesn't really matter if the perplexed workers whinge, as the current management will ensure all jobs gone in two years.
  • " Clever products" ??

    What would they be and if that is the case then all other AAPT products shoud be "not so clever" ??

    Also, what does "ball breaker stuff" mean in Telcos' lingo?

    AAPT claim they are number 3 telco in OZ but I have hardly seen any of their products. Maybe they are not that competitive?
  • Potential...

    AAPT does have faults - many of them. Especially around ex-PowerTel Cowboy management tactics. But there is massive potential.

    The reason why the consumer does not see so many AAPT products is because AAPT is not geared towards consumer business (you just have to do a product comparison with iiNet and Exetel to figure that out). AAPT is a carrier of carriers - i.e. wholesale is their strength.

    The buearaucracy that existed in AAPT pre PowerTel acquisition was hurting the business. The agressive, toxic management styles employed by the PowerTel crowd are good for two things: short-term fixed-price contracts and digging your company out of a hole to avoid/remove insolvency (hence PowerTel was dug out of the gutter a few times).

    These 'toxic' management styles are not long-term strategically sustainable.

    In my opinion, the Boldly Simple strategy that Broad is driving is exactly what AAPT needs, inparticular:
    * introduce and maintain subsidiarity
    * teach managers that leveredging their staff, and empowering their staff will support the leaders much better that the current management styles
    * remove the toxic managemwnt styles
    * align consumer products with the rest of the industry (do they have any idea how powerful high value-add products, priced well, can be?)

    AAPT is not so bad, and Broad does have some good ideas, but he still needs to clean up his own backyard.
  • Is that so?

    AAPT is a carrier of carriers? What a joke considering most AAPT/Powertel services are still going through Telstra/Optus.

    And who dug Powertel out of the gutter if not TNZ? Surely it's got nothing to do with Broad & his crew's management style (if there were any).

    The difference between an organised company and a lousy one is one has vision and plans for future while the other has nothing but rhetorics.
  • yes it is

    Hey Champ,

    Powertel was posting a profit before they were bought out by TNZ to start running AAPT but don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.