It's been a rocky road for AAPT. Many will remember the company's advances as the innovative challenger of the 90s, sticking it to former monopolist Telstra. Then Telecom New Zealand came on the scene, acquiring 100 per cent of the business.
The reasons for the takeover were obvious. It gave Telecom NZ growth opportunities in a much bigger consumer market and provided a trans-Tasman network to satisfy its corporate clients. Then AAPT's focus shifted further into the business market with the acquisition of PowerTel.
For the last couple of years AAPT's ability to capitalise on the market opportunity has been held back by cost-cutting and a problematic implementation of its Hyperbaric billing platform. David Yuile, recently appointed as AAPT's COO, was called in to head up the "war council" that would fix the issues that were upsetting residential customers and causing blow-outs in the call centre.
Billing issues are not unique to AAPT and, hopefully, those days are behind them. So, does this mean there's nothing but a bright future for AAPT? Industry observer Paul Budde gives his thoughts on AAPT in this week's Twisted Wire.
While its focus is on the higher yield corporate market, it still has a residential base and it's trying to acquire more, focusing on higher-yield, lower churn customers on bundled offerings, reached with a reduced advertising budget. In the program we look at AAPT's various attempts to win over customers, from Effie to "the telco that tells it like it is" and "you're not dreaming". Bruce Potter, creative director at Streetwise Advertising, gives his views on its marketing approach. Does it stand out from the crowd?
We had hoped to talk to David Yuile, AAPT's COO, and its CEO Paul Broad to get inside comments on where the company is heading. We wanted to find out what the company was going to do with its upgraded network and new billing system, but AAPT's PR department pulled the plug on these interviews, saying they were happy to talk about the company's network upgrades and Paul Broad's view on the National Broadband Network (he's a non-believer), but that's all.
AAPT strongly asserts there are no plans for a sale, just a rumour mill fuelled by PacNet last year to which, the company would say, there is no validity. I hate rumours. If only people would talk more.
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