iiNet

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iiNet Limited
Type Public
Traded as ASXIIN
Industry Internet Service Provider
Telecommunications
Founded Perth, Western Australia (1993)
Headquarters 502 Hay Street
Subiaco, Western Australia
Area served Australia
Key people Michael Smith (chairman)
Michael Malone (founder, managing director)
Products Broadband
Dialup
Telephony
VoIP
Revenue IncreaseA$941.0 million (2013)[1]
Operating income IncreaseA$138.3 million (2013)[1]
Net income IncreaseA$83.2 million (2013)[1]
Total assets IncreaseA$826.1 million (2013)[1]
Total equity IncreaseA$324.3 million (2013)[1]
Employees >2000 (2013)
Subsidiaries Westnet
Netspace
TransACT
AAPT
Internode
Adam Internet
Website www.iinet.net.au

iiNet Limited is Australia's second-largest internet service provider with more than 1.3 million customers as of 15 August 2011.[2] Their focus is primarily on ADSL-based Internet access, using their own ADSL2+ infrastructure, and reselling Telstra ADSL services. iiNet also provides optical-fibre, dial-up, and voice services.

iiNet has in its growth acquired or merged with many smaller ISPs building a substantial customer base in Western Australia, and then, by acquiring ihug and OzEmail, expanded significantly into the eastern states.

History[edit]

iiNet was founded in 1993 by Michael Malone and Michael O'Reilly, who started the business in a suburban garage in Perth as iiNet Technologies Pty Ltd. It began as one of the first Australian ISPs to offer TCP/IP Internet access, as opposed to the store-and-forward techniques (such as MHSnet) that were then in use at other ISPs. It claims it was the first ISP to offer PPP access in Australia, and to be the first to base operations on the then new Linux operating system.

The company outgrew its suburban home in 1995 and moved to CBD office accommodation yet its early growth during the Internet boom was hampered by the ability of Telstra (not releasing Bigpond as an ISP until 1997) to cope with the demand of needed telephone lines, and by the sheer competitive pressure in the Perth market, which had a comparative oversupply of low-cost providers. In 1996, iiNet successfully expanded into the Adelaide market under the name light.iinet.net.au (named after Colonel Light), in partnership with locals John Lindsay and Leigh Hart. The SA arm moved quickly to become the number three ISP in the state, before being acquired by Auslink in 1998.[citation needed]

Early growth[edit]

A growing demand on infrastructure and a rapidly increasing number of staff saw the company relocate again in 1997 to the central QV.1 building. Also in early 1997, the Western Australian Internet Association, formed in 1995 to represent the Internet community in Western Australia, created a peering and interconnection arrangement known as WAIX [3] between its members, which included iiNet and several other Perth-based ISPs.

In late 1997, the Internet market was moving towards 56K technology.[4] As one end of a 56k connection must be digital, the racks of modems found in every ISP became redundant overnight and expensive CBD-hosted equipment offered by Cisco, Ascend and Livingston became a requirement in order to survive in the marketplace. In 1998, competitive pressure from budget national providers, led by One.Tel, started to reach the Perth market.

In 1998, founding partner Michael Malone purchased the company outright and listed it on the Australian Stock Exchange in September 1999 under ticker symbol IIN. The newfound capital was used to acquire its two major local rivals in the Perth area – Wantree Internet and Omen Internet – along with numerous smaller rivals such as Networx Internet, Infinite Data, Octal and Net Trek Online Services.

This was perceived by most observers as a rationalisation of an unsustainable services market, and allowed not only iiNet, but also other providers such as Westnet, EFTel (itself an agglomeration of several ISPs formed in 2000), ArachNet and Global Dial among others to grow in the local market and to expand into fully-fledged national providers.

After the dot-com bubble burst in mid-2000, iiNet fared poorly on the markets – with shares at one stage falling to A$0.20 from a A$1.00 issue price – however its share price recovered as time progressed. In September 2000, iiNet became the first Western Australian provider to offer ADSL technology.[5]

Growth through acquisition[edit]

The company created a new registered telecommunications provider iiTel, later renamed Chime communications, that sought to improve Internet access prices by making wholesale telephone access much cheaper. This was possible through new interconnection agreements mandated by the Australian Government's deregulation of the telecommunications industry, and provided the foundation for iiNet's later move into telephony (via its iiPhone (Later Phone Advantage and Phone 1) and iiNetPhone (Later iiNet VoIP) products).

Based on its new abilities, and after consolidating its local position, iiNet focused on expanding to national coverage in the early 2000s through strategic acquisitions and natural growth. The acquisitions were:

With the advent of ADSL access, iiNet and several other Western Australian providers on the WAIX were at the forefront of the price and service wars, and were able to make a sizable push eastwards into larger lucrative markets.

In 2003, iiNet made what was then its biggest acquisition, purchasing key New Zealand provider ihug. The acquisition significantly increased iiNet's share of the Australia/New Zealand Internet market.

In 2005, iiNet acquired the residential ISP business and trademarks of rival OzEmail. The business side and infrastructure of that business remained in the ownership of US-parent MCI. OzEmail had been Australia's largest ISP until 2000, when it was acquired by MCI. The retail arm had been neglected, and the company moved very late into ADSL, meaning that it had difficulty positioning itself as a broadband player. iiNet initially used both the OzEmail and iiNet brands on the east coast, but by 2006 iiNet had largely abandoned the OzEmail brand, using its own corporate image across Australia.

DSLAM deployment[edit]

In late 2004, throughout 2005 and into 2006, iiNet moved to introduce their own DSLAM infrastructure (colloquially known as iiSLAMs or iiDSLAMs in the industry) into telephone exchanges Australia-wide. This move allowed iiNet to be the first Australian DSL carrier to offer speeds of over 1.5 Mbit/s to a significant number of customers. The maximum download speed was initially 8 Mbit/s (ADSL1), which increased to 12 Mbit/s and later to 24 Mbit/s, as ADSL2/ADSL2+ standards have been ratified and tested with iiNet's equipment. There are currently over 406 enabled exchanges active around Australia, and a list of these exchanges can be found at iiNet's official website.[6]

Launch of telephony products[edit]

2004 saw the introduction of iiPhone in the form of a long-distance carrier.

In February 2005, iiNet introduced their full-service iiPhone telephony service with their new range of iiBroadband2 packages, allowing customers to pay their telephony costs completely through iiNet, including line rental and local calls.

In August 2005, iiNet released iiNetPhone, their consumer VoIP service. The product was an "add-on" service, available only to customers that also use their iiPhone service. As with most VoIP services, call costs were well under standard market prices for a regular copper line. The iiNetPhone service supports inbound and outbound calls to normal Australian PSTN numbers.

In 2006, iiNet were trialling its MSAN services in three Perth telephone exchanges; but release/expanded trial of these has since been put on hold until further notice. MSANs are iiNet's own full telephone service, meaning they can be completely off Telstra's phone service and onto their own. This would result in a lower line rental price for its customers and free additional add on options to the phone service.

Regulatory conflict with Telstra[edit]

In late 2005, Telstra Wholesale made changes to their pricing arrangements, each of which forced iiNet to make changes to their product line and pricing. The first of these changes was to the DSLAM port rate, which resulted in an increase of the cost of a 1.5 Mbit port. iiNet reduced the speeds for their two cheapest plans to 512 kbit/s, while doubling the data allowance on these plans in an attempt to placate users. They also rebranded the plans available to their Telstra Wholesale customers (512 kbit/s and 1.5 Mbit/s plans) to iiBroadband1, reserving the iiBroadband2+ moniker to uncapped "Up to 24 Mbit/s" speed plans, only available in areas connected to an exchange with an iiNet DSLAM. In April 2006, another iiBroadband1 (using Telstra Wholesale) plan's speed was reduced to 512 kbit/s (though existing plan users were allowed to keep their speed).

The second was an increase in line rental for iiPhone. The rate was increased from A$29.95 to A$33.36, and was also blamed on price increases from Telstra Wholesale. Michael Malone said in regard to both changes, "We're disappointed in the changes to our broadband arrangements and line rental prices from Telstra Wholesale and we're challenging this." [7]

This dispute has now been resolved, and line rental has since returned to A$29.95/month under the re-branded 'Phone 1' plan on the iiNet Website.[8]

Suspension and resumption of share trading[edit]

iiNet's share value slid from A$3.40 in September 2005 to A$1.69 in April 2006. On 18 April 2006, iiNet requested a trading halt pending the release of an announcement. Two days later, it suspended its shares from quotation. Initially, the company advised it intended to resume trading on the ASX the following week, but on 21 April, a local newspaper, WA Business News, speculated that "One line of thought is that uncertainty on behalf of iiNet's bankers, will result in the company embarking on a capital raising to address concerns over banking covenants, and provide its bankers with a measure of confidence." Other speculation in the same article suggested that iiNet may be about to exit New Zealand or the CEO was about to sell his shareholding.[9]

On 1 May 2006, iiNet advised the ASX that its shares would remain suspended, as its March quarter results had been "well below expectations". The company announced on 11 May 2006 that updated financial figures for the previous year would not be released for "one to two weeks".[10][11] On 13 May, The West Australians business section reported on the matter, and claimed that founder Michael Malone had been "sidelined", and that the company was "open for takeover" according to analysts, who rated Singtel Optus as the most likely suitor. On 18 May, WA Business News agreed with the West's claim that takeover offers were being evaluated, however contradicted the claim that Malone had been sidelined.[12] Meanwhile, ZDNet reported, "It is likely iiNet's management will move more conservatively now that their financial dirty laundry has been so publicly aired. They'll need to remain focused on consolidating their assets after what is expected to be a large drop in iiNet's share price when the stock resumes trading."[13]

On 26 May, the stock was reinstated to official quotation and fell on its first trading day to A$0.85, after the 27 May edition of The West Australian reported that iiNet was in the red for the first time in five years and had vowed not to repeat costly mistakes. PowerTel, a Sydney-based telco, would emerge with a diluted stake of 13% at 85c a share [14] and Michael Malone's share would be diluted to 14.4%.

On 31 May, Amcom Telecommunications announced it had acquired a 19.96% stake in iiNet, becoming the company's largest shareholder.[15]

On 21 June, the Malone family increased their holding to 19.97%.[16]

Sale of ihug – New Zealand subsidiary[edit]

On 20 July 2006 iiNet announced that they were wanting to sell their New Zealand subsidiary – ihug. Potential buyers included Orcon Internet Limited, Vodafone and TelstraClear. The sale to Vodafone NZ was announced on 9 October 2006, at a price of A$36 million[17] – roughly six times ihug's EBIT at the time.

2008 acquisitions[edit]

January 2008 saw iiNet recommence its acquisition strategy with the purchase of the customer base of local Perth ISP Up'n'away. This was followed in May with the purchase of rival Perth-based ISP Westnet, in a friendly acquisition worth $81 million.[18] In a departure from previous acquisitions, iiNet also announced that Westnet would continue to operate as a separate entity. However as of 2013 some marketing copy is identical, suggesting at the very least a degree of back-office collaboration now exists.

As part of the Westnet acquisition, iiNet's online gaming presence was closed in August 2008,[19] with operations being moved to the former Westnet gaming site 3FL.

2010 acquisitions[edit]

iiNet continued to grow through acquisitions by purchasing rival ISP Netspace in March 2010.[20] The deal, valued at $40 million, increased iiNet's total number of broadband subscribers to 520,000, and also followed the pattern of the Westnet takeover with Netspace remaining operational as a separate entity under iiNet.

In late July 2010, iiNet agreed to purchase AAPT's consumer operations for $60 million from Telecom New Zealand.[21] As part of the acquisition, Telecom New Zealand entered into a block-trade agreement to sell their 18.2% share holding in iiNet to "institutional and sophisticated investors", a move viewed by many[22] as a defensive action against a takeover bid from industry rival TPG. The purchase of AAPT increases iiNet's total broadband subscribers to more than 652,000 and total active services to more than 1,326,000.

2011 acquisitions[edit]

On 16 November 2011 it was announced that iiNet was in the final stages of negotiations in the acquisition of Canberra-based telco TransACT.[23] The acquisition was completed on 30 November 2011 at a cost of $60 million.[24]

On 22 December 2011, iiNet announced it would acquire rival ISP Internode for $105 million with the transaction due to be completed late February 2012.[25][26]

AFACT lawsuit[edit]

On 20 November 2008, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) filed a lawsuit against iiNet in the Federal Court of Australia claiming that iiNet infringed copyright by failing to prevent its subscribers from downloading pirated material using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol.[27] The lawsuit was co-filed by 34 film and affiliated companies including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox as well the Seven Network, an Australian television broadcaster, and alleges breach of copyright on a number of popular movies and television shows.[28] It was later revealed in a wikileaks document AFACT was backed by MPAA.[29]

In response, iiNet issued a statement[30] indicating that iiNet had been passing on the reports of infringement received from AFACT to law enforcement authorities, and that iiNet could not disconnect a customer's phone line based on an allegation unproven in the courts. Michael Malone, Managing Director of iiNet, went on to state that "AFACT is arguing that they don't want to talk to the police, and we should just cut the customers off".[31] However, the Statement of Claim filed at the Federal Court does not indicate AFACT are asking for users to be disconnected but that iiNet subscribers are "prevented" from committing copyright infringement.[32]

The case is regarded as a test case for copyright infringement in Australia,[33] and AFACT was represented by Gilbert + Tobin, the same law firm that successfully sued the makers of Kazaa in 2005.[34]

In 2010, Justice Cowdroy in the Federal Court found in favour of iiNet, noting that while iiNet users did infringe, this was not the responsibility of iiNet to deal with.[35]

On 20 April 2012 the High Court of Australia confirmed the intervening Federal Court Full Bench decision affirming the first instance decision of Cowdroy, though not supporting all his reasons. Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16 (20 April 2012). In his reasoning, Gummow J. noted in particular the current legislation did not provide a mechanism to deal with peer-to-peer infringements and it needed to be addressed by legislature.

Products and services[edit]

iiNet Limited provides Broadband and IP telephony communication services to consumers and business customers. Its flagship products are broadband2+ (ADSL2+) services and VOIP services for businesses.

iiNet is also a part of the Terria consortium that bid to build the National Broadband Network in 2008.

Chime communications[edit]

Chime Communications is an Australian telecommunications company founded by iiNet in 1996.[36]

It was the focus of a dispute regarding access to the Telstra PSTN network which was settled by the ACCC in 2007.[37]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "iiNet Annual Report 2013". iiNet. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  2. ^ http://www.iinet.net.au/press/releases/20110815-iinet-limited-fy11-results.html
  3. ^ http://www.waia.asn.au/waix/ Western Australian Internet Exchang
  4. ^ iiNet Limited (1997). "iiNet Newsletter: November 1997". Retrieved 2008-09-09. [dead link]
  5. ^ iiNet Limited (2000). "iiNet launches ADSL service". Retrieved 2008-09-09. [dead link]
  6. ^ iiNet Limited (2000). "iiNet Network Coverage". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  7. ^ Phil Sweeney, Whirlpool (2005). "iiNet raises speed, but also line rental". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  8. ^ Phil Sweeney, Whirlpool (2007). "Telstra lets cat out of the bag". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  9. ^ James Moses, WA Business News (2006). "Speculation mounts on iiNet". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  10. ^ iiNet Limited (2006). "Suspension Update". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  11. ^ James Moses, WA Business News (2006). "iiNet suspension continues into 4th week". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  12. ^ Colin Jacoby, WA Business News (2006). "iiNet extends trade halt". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  13. ^ Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia (2006). "Bean-counters to rein in iiNet?". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  14. ^ iiNet Limited (2006). "iiNet and PowerTel form strategic alliance". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  15. ^ Amcom Limited (2006). "Amcom acquires strategic 20% stake in iiNet". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  16. ^ ASX (2006). "Appendix 3Y: Change of Director's Interest Notice". Retrieved 2008-09-09. [dead link]
  17. ^ iiNet Limited (2006). "iiNet to sell New Zealand Business". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  18. ^ "iiNet acquires Westnet". 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  19. ^ "iiGames shutting down, all hail 3FL". 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  20. ^ iiNet Limited (2010). "iiNet announces the acquisition of Netspace". Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  21. ^ iiNet Limited (2010). "Acquisition of the AAPT Consumer Division, Exit of Telecom New Zealand from the register". Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  22. ^ Mitchell Bingemann (2010-07-31). "How iiNet beat the pack to acquire AAPT division". The Australian. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  23. ^ Mitchell Bingemann (16 November 2011). "iiNet to buy TransACT". The Australian. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "iiNet acquires TransACT". iinet.net.au. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  25. ^ Internode (2011). "Internode joins forces with iiNet". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  26. ^ iiNet Limited (2011). "http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20111222/pdf/423gl75v07k006.pdf". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  27. ^ Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (2008). "Film industry launches legal action against iiNet to prevent online peer-to-peer copyright infringement". Retrieved 2008-11-24. [dead link]
  28. ^ Gilbert and Tobin Lawyers (2008). "Statement of Claim: Roadshow Films Pty Ltd & ORS vs iiNet Ltd". Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  29. ^ cite web|url==http://delimiter.com.au/2011/08/30/wikileaks-cable-outs-secret-iitrial-background/
  30. ^ iiNet Limited (2008). "iiNet to Vigorously Defend Federal Court Action". Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  31. ^ Fran Foo, Australian IT (2008-11-25). "Film giants pursue file sharers". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  32. ^ "Statement of Claim". Retrieved 2009-02-10. [dead link]
  33. ^ LawFront.com (2008). "The case against iiNet". Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  34. ^ "Roadshow Films Pty Ltd & Ors v iiNet Limited [2011] HCATrans 323 (30 November 2011)". Austlii. 30 November 2011. 
  35. ^ LeMay, Renai (4 February 2010). "iiNet wins copyright court case". ZDNet Australia. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  36. ^ ASIC company profile
  37. ^ ACCC determination

External links[edit]