Network: Seek a Net profit by becoming your own ISP

Why be just another Web surfer when you can be your own Internet company? Stephen Pritchard reports on an Easynet package that turns punter into service provider.

Brian Mulligan is one man who thinks small Internet service providers have a future. In fact, as managing director of Easynet, he is fostering their growth, even though they compete with his own firm for subscriptions.

Mulligan knows that the odds are stacked against small companies that want to become ISPs. The investments in technology, know-how and marketing are simply too great. "There are a lot of ISPs out there, and it is difficult to offer unique selling points," he suggests.

But instead of distancing Easynet from the small fry, Mulligan is encouraging them. The company wants small organisations, from computer dealers to football clubs, to become miniature Internet companies.

For pounds 9,000, you can buy an off-the-shelf Internet package from Easynet that supports 50 subscriptions. The Virtual Internet Provider service includes access to Easynet's phone or ISDN lines, modems, Web servers, backbone and technical support. There's even a CD-Rom, with all the software a user needs to go online.

Customers need never know that the service comes from Easynet. A serial number unlocks the CD-Rom and takes the subscriber to a customised home page. Easynet supplies its clients with billing information, and VIPs can put their own branding on the Web site, bills, and even the CD-Rom, if they want.

To break even in year one, the DIY Internet provider would need to sell the 50 subscriptions at pounds 15 each, which is rather more than the going rate. But there are other ways to make money. Extra subscriptions will cost less, and VIPs can charge for Web space, or added-value services. The VIP also receives a domain name, and "unlimited" Web space for its own use, both of which cost money on the open market. As Mulligan suggests, it is a way for companies, charities or clubs to subsidise their own Internet needs.

Mulligan concedes that Easynet is helping people to compete with its own dial-up services, although he points out that the main markets - computer dealers, value-added resellers and distributors, on the one hand, and clubs, societies and charities on the other - are not part of the mainstream market.

There is a strong commercial logic, too. Easynet is effectively selling its access time up front. It is down to its VIP customers to sell on the subscriptions: Easynet is paid, whether they do or not.

One of the greatest costs in any Internet service is getting new customers. Winning dial-up customers is the most expensive of all, when the money spent on signing them up is set against the revenue they bring in. Easynet has pulled off a neat trick by letting someone else - its VIP clients - do the marketing, while it concentrates on the technology and the infrastructure.

Easynet is not, Mulligan stresses, pulling out of the dial-up Net market. But clearly he sees its future as a wholesale supplier, whether of leased lines, Web space, or the Virtual Internet Provider package. "Most of the dial-up market will go through third parties," he admits.

The company has two other initiatives that suggest that selling Internet accounts to the public is no longer its main focus. Easynet is building a "web farm" were companies can host their pages, either on Easynet's servers or on their own hardware, managed under contract by Easynet. Mr Mulligan expects even heavy Internet users to look at this option. Internet design companies are one target group.

Easynet has also recently won a telecommunications licence. This means the company can sell voice services alongside the Internet. Brian Mulligan sees his company's future as an integrated telecommunications company. Easynet did not bid for the telecoms licence just to be able to offer lines into Internet users' houses or offices. "We are interested in voice, and in broadening our services," he says.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform