Broadband users 'would pay more for quality'

ITU 2003: Research has found that broadband users would be willing to pay more if they were guaranteed a better quality of service by providers

Four-fifths of those with broadband Internet connections are interested in guaranteed quality of service (QoS) from their providers. What's more, 68 percent of those -- which works out to over half of all broadband users -- would be willing to pay a premium for QoS.

Those findings come from a survey 6,000 individuals registered with Broadand4Britain, commissioned by network platforms company net.com and reported at ITU Telecom World 2003. As well as highlighting performance gripes some users have with broadband -- whether from ISPs reselling ADSL, cable companies or others -- the figures are related to specific services users feel would benefit from consistent QoS.

Top of the reasons for better broadband are connecting, typically back to corporate networks, using VPN technology, running voice over IP (VoIP) software over a home or small office PC, video conferencing and gaming, where delays can mean the difference between life and death.

Bert Whyte, net.com CEO, told silicon.com: "Carriers get [the idea of broadband QoS] but they're risk-averse. Those that take the leap and do this first will be those who own the market eventually."

In general, telcos are wary of moves that they think will cannibalise revenues from other services, including much more expensive leased lines -- often considered something that will suffer as ADSL use grows -- and plain old circuit-switched voice telephony.

However, net.com and others say there is pressure being applied to telcos from their customers and those reselling ADSL, typically with content offerings that would benefit from better QoS.

The Broadband4Britain research also found that 21 percent of respondents would pay 20 percent more than their current rates while, at the other end of the spectrum, some would settle for poorer basic connectivity but an option for premium service at a premium price.

Another option would be for resellers to swallow the costs of QoS by winning business on quality or gaming companies such as Microsoft or Sony potentially selling more subscriptions on the basis of guaranteed response times.

Net.com is a seller of QoS software. Separately, it announced it has signed a partnership agreement with Atreus Systems for the creation, provisioning and management of QoS-enabled IP systems for carriers.

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