As Eclipse Internet unveils super fast 40Mb fibre optic broadband deals for consumers, uSwitch Tech catches up with Director Clodagh Murphy to discuss the state of UK broadband, the importance of a super fast infrastructure to the economy, rolling contracts and everything in between.
What can Eclipse provide with its fibre broadband product that existing ISPs don’t?
Our new consumer superfast fibre broadband gives customers the opportunity to build the package that they want. They simply choose how much usage they need, all the way from 10Gb to a truly unlimited option so it caters for everyone.
Not only that, but we’ve taken things further by understanding that customers worry about reaching their usage limits. Our customers use the internet more at weekends or at night, so we’ve given them unlimited usage at weekends and overnight.
All this is provided by our team in Exeter who are passionate about delivering excellent customer service and expert technical support to our customers. This has been confirmed by the fact that Which? have named us as a recommended broadband provider and we are finalists for the Best ISP with PC Pro’s excellence awards, to name a few accolades.
Finally, our products really work. We have access to the largest network in the UK, giving us the infrastructure to deliver reliable products to our customers. We are fast as well, with our download speeds second only to Virgin, showing that we really compete with the big boys.
BT, whose Infinity product forms the basis for your residential fibre packages, are rolling out fibre to an extra 114 exchanges. Do you expect to be able to offer an Eclipse service in those areas from day one?
Yes. As it happens, we have a very close relationship with BT Wholesale, and we are their biggest partner. That gives us and our customers a privileged position, and one that we use to our advantage in delivering the best possible service.
Why has it taken six months since the launch of your business fibre products for Eclipse to launch consumer focussed offering?
Our aim is to always deliver the right product to market. It’s not about how long this takes, it’s making sure that it’s the right product for the customer. We’ve talked to our customers and listened to what they want.
What kind of businesses have been signing up for your fibre business products?
We’ve had a great deal of demand from SMEs in all vertical markets, businesses that value and rely on a reliable and fast connection, an example being IT and media based agencies who need fast up and download speeds.
Nick Clegg recently said that infrastructure projects like the fibre rollout could be the salvation of the economy a la Roosevelt’s New Deal and cited machinations in Whitehall rather than ISPs as the key cause of delays in recent years.
How far do you go along with that a) in the potential for it to turn things around in the wider economy? B) That its Whitehall and not ISP’s that have caused the delays?
We believe that SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and we need to help them make their businesses work. If, as a result of faster broadband, they can be more efficient and focus resources in the right way to make their business grow, then that’s great news for the economy.
An example is an existing Eclipse customer, who runs a magazine company in Cornwall. They were spending days uploading and downloading because of a slow broadband connection. With superfast fibre broadband, they can do this in minutes, giving them the time to focus on other important issues that will help their business.
What did you make of TalkTalk’s David Goldie’s comments claiming that BT is using its fibre optic network to re-establish a monopoly in the broadband sector?
I think the regulator is stronger than that, but it must remain proactive and vigilant as the broadband market continues to mature and evolve. Competing with the incumbent will always be challenging for the many ISPs who are intent upon differentiating themselves only on price rather than innovation, or customer service.
If the 4G auction is delayed, how damaging might that be for UK business?
As I’ve said, UK plc has got to aspire to having the best primary infrastructure in the world because our private sector is competing on an international footing. Broadband is a key business enabler and I look forward to seeing the mass-market availability of 4G mobile broadband services as soon as possible.
In the wake of the high court ruling that BT should block Newzbin, what’s your stance on ISP’s being bound to take a more proactive role in protecting copyright?
To be honest, I struggle with this one. If I was to buy a car that was capable of speeds of 150mph, it wouldn’t be the responsibility of the car manufacturer/salesman to control how I drove the car or that I drove within the legal speed limits.
Do you welcome Ofcom’s move to ban rolling contracts?
We have never introduced rolling contracts. Our customers have told us they don’t like them, so we welcome the initiative as we believe it is right for customers.
Eclipse always kept their customer support in the UK. Do you feel vindicated that other providers are now shunning outsourcing?
We have never considered moving our support out of the UK as we are passionate about providing excellent customer service and support. That’s why we’re thrilled that we’ve been named as a recommended broadband provider by consumer body Which? for the second time this year.
There are a couple of phrases that are banded around the office - ‘superhero support that comes as standard’ and ‘looking through the customer’s eyes’. These reiterate what we stand for and who we are.
The standard of customer support from larger providers has disappointed in the past. What are they doing wrong?
The key to delivering excellent customer service is listening. At Eclipse, we make sure that we have a two-way conversation with our customers. I am very proud of the team at Eclipse as everyone is really committed to delivering the best service and support. Not because they’re being told to but because they want to.