Despite growth rates slowing as the broadband market matures, Internode is still signing up an average of 250 new customers a day, many of them moving from rival Internet service providers.
Internode is Australia's largest independent broadband company, with more than 150,000 broadband customers. Once it has filled its vacancies, Internode will have nearly 400 employees nationally.
Internode CEO Patrick Tapper said the company was on track to meet its 2008-09 revenue target of more than $130 million. "The biggest challenge for us is finding the right people for our customers," he said. "We need the right people in our customer service and help desk areas because having a helpful attitude towards customers is what sets Internode apart from many of our competitors."
"Another important differentiator is that, at a time when many of our rivals are sending support jobs offshore to keep down their costs, Internode remains committed to keeping its customer service and help desk facilities in Australia. We believe it makes good business sense to keep these jobs here."
After five years of record growth, Internode has seen growth rates abate to more manageable levels as the Australian broadband market approaches saturation. By the middle of last year, nearly two thirds of Australian households reportedly had Internet access, with broadband connections outnumbering dial-up services by a ratio of two to one.
Mr. Tapper said Internode was addressing this change in the market by broadening its product range. "Our focus is on gaining market share," he said. "We aim to make it as easy as possible for customers to get plenty of value out of their broadband service. For example, to make our NodePhone telephony service even easier for customers to use, we are now selling Internet Protocol telephone handsets."
"Also, we recently announced a partnership with TiVo licensee Hybrid Television Services, under which Internode is delivering unmetered access to TiVo content and Blockbuster movies online."
"During the past year, we have signed wholesale ADSL2+ service agreements with both Optus and Telstra, which allow customers to choose Internode as their preferred broadband provider no matter where they live in Australia. At the same time, we continue to install our own DSLAM equipment in telephone exchanges so we can give customers the best possible broadband experience."
Mr. Tapper said a great barrier to adopting new technology was its complexity. "To continue succeeding, we need to make innovations as simple to use as what customers already have," he said. "Whether on the web, on the TiVo or on the iPhone, we are looking at ways to integrate all of our services over that particular platform, so a customer can find our services and interact with us easily."
"It's about giving customers technology that they actually want and making it easy for them to use."