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EXCLUSIVE: MyRepublic CEO Says Local ISPs Failing To Take Advantage of NBN

One of the bigger announcements occuring in the backdrop of this year’s PAX Australia was the arrival of Singaporean ISP MyRepublic to the Australian market. The company, described by a former-Telstra CEO as the biggest disruption and threat to local ISP players, used the convention to make an appeal to Australian gamers ahead of its official launch on November 15th.

ChannelNews spoke with MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues and Head of MyRepublic Australia Nicholas Demos about how the company plans to shake up the landscape of Australia’s ISPs.

As it turns out, the pair have some very specific ideas on the topic. The company’s arrival into the Australian market has been a long-time coming. They’ve previously worked with national broadband networks in New Zealand, Singapore and India and the rollout of Australia’s NBN as a natural point of entry into the market.

Rodrigues says that “we found [in Australia] was that while it’s very competition here – nobody is really using the NBN [to its fullest potential].”

“Telstra, Optus – they haven’t changed anything except the last mile.”

“For [a national broadband network] to actually work properly you need everything else to be realigned – whether that’s your international capacity, how you route to traffic internationally or in your core network how you prioritize the packets,” he said.

“What we’ve seen the other guys do is taken what they had before and didn’t really change anything. They’ve changed the last mile from copper to NBN ….but nothing else has changed”

Rodrigues says its this lazy approach that has misled many about what an NBN can actually allow for.

“Most Australians come onto it expecting something but it’s the same experience”

He says MyRepublic’s history of working with national broadband networks in other countries has prepared them to offer Australian customers a service that makes better use of the underlying technology provided by the NBN.

According to Rodrigues, “the NBN is one piece of it and there are four or five pieces that define the experience.”

“We’ve purpose-built our broadband capability to NBN,” he says.

Nicholas Demos is quick to chime in on the topic of the established forces facing MyRepublic’s expansion into the local market.

According to him, “there’s lack of competition, Over the last couple of years there’s been so much consolidation” and the dominant local ISPs have failed to evolve and properly adapt to the potential of the NBN as a result.

He described the ads for Optus and Telstra he had seen on buses around Melbourne, flaunting NBN-ready services that are ultimately still the same product as they were before the implementation of the NBN.

“The incumbents are lazy. They’re not innovating. They’re just taking an existing product and bringing them across. That’s not we’re about”

Demos says “it’s a game-changer.”

“Australians are confused about what services they can get and that’s shown in the stats released yesterday.”

“We’re taking the confusion out. I’m sure if you look at all the different sites there’s [a lot of different] data caps, speed tiers.”

In comparison, “we’re offering one product,” he says.

Rodrigues says “most Australian’s don’t know what speed they’re on. They’re so focused on data caps. We think that people are on 25/Mbps because they’ve taken the 10GB plan and that’s what TPG has given them [with] that product and that’s what it is. They’re so focused on this big thing – which is the cap – that with speed, they’ll just go for the cheapest.”

“So they’re focusing on the wrong thing.”

“We’re about passion for speed and we want to bring that to the market,” he says.

He says MyRepublic plan to amend this by offering all customers the maximum possible speed in their area at a flat monthly rate of $60.

According to him, “breaks my heart we can’t give you one gigabit a second,” but “we’re gonna give you is the fastest speed available in your area and we’re going to work with NBN and the government to try and increase that speed.”

“It’s all unlimited and its a flat rate of $60 bucks,” he says.

It’s the kind of service platform that’s likely to prove popular with Australian gamers – thus the company’s presence at this year’s PAX.

Malcolm says the company’s choice to focus on the demographic

“When we started the company, the NBN had just launched and we wanted to figure out what market segments we wanted to focus on. Initially, we looked at the techies and early adopters but in our company there were a bunch of young gamers and they said if there’s anyone you want to go after it should be gamers.”

He highlights the ability of NBN to create a quality-of-service capability when it comes to the ISP market that wasn’t there before, and how that capability can be harnessed into a service that prioritizes the low-latency that’s important to Australian gamers.

Rodrigues says the company has built specific pathways for traffic to servers of popular online games like DOTA 2 and World of Warcraft and an entirely VLAN for users on their gaming-focused plans.

The company even have a gamer-specific support hotline which they say is staffed with technicians experienced in gaming-specific problems.

“The internet kind of ebbs and flows. So we kind of have latency commitments to our customers going outwards and in the network itself we prioritize that gaming traffic”

“We charge a little more but it gives people a premium experience”

The company launched a pre-order offer at PAX for the company’s Gamer PS4 Pro plan, which unlimited downloads and uploads at the fastest NBN speed available (depending on your location) and a $200 discount on a Sony Playstation 4 Pro.

They’re even including a high-speed router that they bundle in for $1.

“Most people they go from a 10mb connection to a 100mb connection and the plug in their five year old router and go ‘this isn’t any different.”

“So one thing we started doing in the early days was we actually forced people to change their routers. We said if you want to go to a 100mb connection you need to use one of these better routers – ones that can propel a 100mb connection adequately through your home.”

“We used to have a partnership with ASUS but [now] we work with a company called Technicolor and we kind of customize the router for 100mb for 1gb. We wanted a certain kind of performance. So effectively we built our own router and in our backend we can see the health of that routers and whether the Wi-Fi is working or not”

“For that one dollar you get a custom-built router that’s geared for what we believe is the best performance for that speed.”

It’s a compelling pitch but only time will tell if the Australian market will embrace MyRepublic and prove former-Telstra CEO David Thodey’s right.

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