by Elaine Ng, exclusive to ZDNetAsia Partnerships and a focus on regional business investments are factors that won Pacific Internet Limited the "Best Asian Internet Service Provider (ISP)" title for a second year running at the Telecom Asia's annual Readers' Choice Awards 2000, said corporate Business Product Manager, Kenneth Liew.
Last year, about 30 to 35 per cent of Pacific Internet's revenue was from corporate investments. "We realized that we must shift our focus to corporate customers, therefore regional presence is important," said Liew.
Following the trend of e-commerce in Asia, Pacific Internet's business-to-business ventures include partnerships with Systems Integrators and other vendors who are able to supply hardware. Its other partners include Cybersource and Cobalt.
Pacific Internet is working on forming alliances with three to four companies to provide corporate customers with secure messaging systems. It intends to attract online traders and banks to use its services.
"We are not experts, that's why we need partnerships," said Liew. Corporate customers can expect broadband and DSL services from Pacific Internet in the near future.
Likewise, StarHub Internet has McAfee and Andersen Consulting as partners to provide its customers with e-security services.
While StarHub Internet intends to continue providing its "Surf-for-free" plan for end-users, Pacific Internet subscribers will not be able to enjoy free dial-up to Pacific Internet.
"We have totally no intentions of that because we believe that nothing is free in this world," said Liew.
Instead, Pacific Internet is providing more value-added services like UMS and larger disk-space for e-mails, together with its "Surf-perks" rewards for end-users.
StarHub, on the other hand, intends to extend its privileges to paid subscribers in its unlimited surfing scheme through "less-tangible incentives instead of money offers".
Through tie-ups with companies like earth9.com and asiastockwatch.com, subscribers can expect to see, movie reviews and other varied content.
Other than Singapore, Pacific Internet has set up ISPs in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia, India and Thailand.
But fellow nominee in Telecom Asia's best-of-breed ISP category, StarHub Internet, does not intend to extend its operations in the region. It wants to establish itself in Singapore first, said StarHub's Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive, Robin Tan.
Pacific Internet had its last word. "Each ISP has the same product no matter how you repackage it," said Kenneth Liew.
Would "price" continue to hold its traditional ground, or would the less tangible "price/performance" terminology bandied about as much as the term "New Economy" take over? It remains to be seen which strategy proves more effective.