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Formidable is the power of Web 2.0

As journalists, it's not uncommon to find companies which press conferences we attend, issue clarifications after the event has ended.But having gone to hundreds of these events, I've yet to come across one I've attended that changes the terms and conditions of their product offering a mere 48 hours after the event.

As journalists, it's not uncommon to find companies which press conferences we attend, issue clarifications after the event has ended.

But having gone to hundreds of these events, I've yet to come across one I've attended that changes the terms and conditions of their product offering a mere 48 hours after the event.

Until now, that is.

Since first penning about Telekom Malaysia's high-speed broadband service, dubbed UniFI, TM has ceded to massive Twitter and forum rumblings about how unfair its FUP (fair usage policy) is and two days after the launch, it released a tweet, saying: "No volume cap 4 all #unifi packages 4 now. Decision due to public feedback. TM will only monitor usage pattern 4 time being."

This is truly unchartered territory as the launch of UniFi has surely been planned for months before this, and one would imagine that a lot of thinking, debate and revisions would have gone into it, especially regarding pricing and policies, which would have eventually guided its marketing campaign.

So it comes as a real surprise that TM backtracked on its FUP, a tool that its group CEO, Zamzamzairani Isa, advocated as a means to distribute equitable bandwidth among its UniFi users and to hedge against those who might hog its bandwidth.

What's clear is this: In this age of interactivity and what I call the age of the "Writable Web," or what some people may call Web 2.0, the power and influence of blogs, forums and more recently, the microblogging site, Twitter, can truly make a difference.

I believe the example of TM backtracking on its FUP is a reaction to the reach and power of Web 2.0.

Such a bold move can be seen as a positive development since government-linked companies such as TM, have always been perceived--and this is often true--as laggards with regard to customer feedback.

TM could have chosen to be stubborn and not reacted in the face of negativity. It could have chosen to be arrogant and ignored the calls to abandon its FUP.

It could have taken an indifferent or impassive stance, or what is known in local parlance as a tiada apa (couldn't care less) attitude, and continued with its marketing campaign against all odds.

However, TM didn't do that and instead, it didn't wait long to react to the barrage of negative comments over its FUP and should be commended for that...at least for now.

That said, some local news portals still report that the incumbent operator reserves the right to implement the FUP at any point later, and the basis for triggering the FUP will be based on monitoring subscribers' usage patterns.

But while it's within its prerogative to do that later, TM would do well to heed the point that it could actually be at the mercy of its existing customers, as well as potential ones, more than it knows.

TM should know very well that the success of UniFi, in part, would depend a lot on these so-called early adopters, who are invariably power users, and who by definition would want no limits on their bandwidth.

As one who has covered the tech beat in the country for close to a decade, it's good to note that the landscape for marketing, customer relationship and loyalty is changing tremendously, and rightfully so, driven by technology as the agent of change.

Thanks to these Web 2.0 tools and their viral ability to spread dissent and negative views as far, as wide and as quickly as anyone with an Internet connection can seek to do, giant conglomerates can no longer ignore the little men on the street.

With that in mind, I hope this will be the first of many steps TM takes to listen to its customers, and my wish is that it won't renege on its promise to not implement usage caps.

And even if TM chooses to do so, it would do well for them to further segmentize the market by coming up with cheaper packages that are subject to usage caps, leaving the premium packages untouched.

By doing so, TM will likely gain the respect of more customers--existing and potential--and come up a true winner instead of possibly alienating the very people that could make its UniFi service a success, as it might have done so in the past with its other services.