iiNet is starting to face challenges with its unmetered Freeview offering, with content from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation moving offshore and customers jumping onto Apple's iCloud causing headaches for chief technology officer Greg Bader.
Speaking on the executive panel at iiNet's annual open day in Perth yesterday, Bader fielded a question from the audience on whether, with the advent of iCloud, iiNet would continue to offer unmetered Freeview for iTunes content that wouldn't count to a customer's monthly internet quota.
"The Freezone has always been for iTunes," he said, clarifying that content that doesn't come direct from areas specified under Freeview, even if linked through iTunes is not unmetered.
"It's not that we're typically stingy, [but] it comes a real technical challenge to unmeter stuff that can come from anywhere in the world."
He said that it was often difficult for iiNet from a technical standpoint to determine what was and wasn't supposed to be unmetered content as providers host data in a number of different locations.
iiNet is the biggest consumer of iView content, he said, accounting for 35 per cent of all iView traffic, but he said around 10 per cent of this data was held offshore by the ABC, and as such there was a cost incurred by iiNet to bring the data onshore.
"If we can have the content inside our network, then the cost to us to unmeter is generally lower. But when it is coming from around the world, there is a cost," he said.
As internet download quotas increase, Bader said the need for Freeview lessened as people's demands for data were being met within higher quotas.
"The importance of unmetered is diminishing over time," he said.
VoIP blocks as fraud grows
Following a customer question on not being able to call Qatar, Bader admitted that iiNet had blocked around 44 countries from their VoIP services, after finding fraud to be an increasing problem on VoIP calls.
"Fraud on VoIP is getting worse in the world. It's not just us," he said.
In order to get past it, Bader said customers must call iiNet directly and ask for the block to be removed, and an iiNet customer service representative will record the audio of the customer consenting to have that block removed.
Bader said that the company was getting between two to three customers every fortnight falling victim to identity theft or fraud. He said that this mostly came from customers failing to change their modem passwords from the default, and he encouraged customers to update their iiNet credentials to avoid being compromised.
Broadband bun fight
Meanwhile, chief financial officer David Buckingham conceded to customers that the internet service provider (ISP) market would be tight in the coming years, with aggressive marketing campaigning from the likes of Telstra. He said that although iiNet needed to be a "better sales and service company", iiNet was well positioned to meet the coming challenges.
"Our customers tell us that they prefer us a lot more than some of the other ISPs," he said. "With that loyalty we can sell a lot more to our customers."
Buckingham said iiNet would be the trusted digital partner for customers, helping them with multiple devices in the home. He said that the company was aiming to sell one more product to its existing customers, and pointed to newer products such as iiNet's foray into the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) market selling mobile post-paid plans.
The company was also expanding its BoB Squad service, where for $99 a BoB Squad member will come out to a customer's home and assist them with their internet services. iiNet said it was planning to expand this service to the east coast of Australia in the coming months. Chief marketing officer Mark Lollback said that this was cheaper than other in-home services, such as plumbing, as the company wasn't looking to make money from it.
"We don't see it as a profit-making scheme," he said.
Josh Taylor travelled to Perth as a guest of iiNet.