Iain Calder - TFN board candidacy

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What I think TFN is about

I think that presenting ourselves as the cheapest ISP, and committing to actually being that, is not necessarily the best strategy.  Firstly, we cannot always win on that front: there will always be a competitor offering a short-term deal below cost.  People do switch ISPs for those cheap first 6 months!  Secondly, as sector commodification deepens, price differences shrink.  TFN's price advantage is continuously eroding.  So, TFN's existence, at least from the perspective of paying members, cannot be justified by a purely financial argument.

But there are criteria beyond price, when choosing an ISP:

I think that we should play up our strengths, rather than play the game by the rules of our commercial competitors.

I think that we should be doing everything that commercial ISPs don't because they see no easy profit in it.  We should pursue fringe markets.  We should provide non-mainstream features.  We should encourage members to use our full range of services, so that they will know and value them, when they compare TFN to competitors.

Note that I am not saying that TFN should shun mainstream users.  I am only saying that I think that it is a mistake to focus our hopes on winning in the mainstream market, which is well served by commercial ISPs.  Even if it were feasible, I think that TFN's survival would be pointless if we just imitated the mainstream ISPs and limited our offerings to the most profitable ones.

I see TFN branding itself with its non-mainstream, curmudgeonly distinctiveness.  Not as a price-competitive choice amongst other ISPs, but as an alternative option for those wanting a different environment and for those wanting to support and be part of TFN's mission, even though another ISP may have sufficed for their particular needs.  And, yeah, the service should be cheap too.  But I think that we should not make that the core of our identity.

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