As early as 2000, when it was at the peak of its market dominance, local Internet service provider Tri-Isys already saw the storm clouds coming: the introduction of high-speed broadband in the local market against its dial-up Internet service. But as Tanny Syfu, chief executive adviser of Tri-Isys, now recalls, the company had underestimated the impact of the new and much faster type of Internet service.
“Back then, we thought that high speed broadband was only a trickle,” he says. “This was because broadband was relatively expensive to operate, and we figured that the application would only serve big companies that could afford it, as what was happening in other countries. But time has proven that assumption of ours to be wrong.”
Indeed, with the advent of broadband, the operating costs of an Internet service dropped dramatically, and domestic telephone companies could now afford to offer the service at increasingly cheaper rates. The alarm bells therefore sounded for Tri-Isys.
Syfu recalls what the company did in self-defense: “We researched and planned a course of action to counter the threat. But as things stood at the time, the company didn’t own the cable links needed to bring Internet service to consumers; we had no choice but to lease them from the telephone companies. So we decided to focus on prepaid services, which was our core strength, and went on a wait-and-see mode.”
Tri-Isys felt that it was equipped to weather the storm because of the company’s strong foothold in the prepaid service arena. And as 2006 rolled in, the company was finally able to identify the market niche it was going into given the new competitive situation: corporate security services in the form of antivirus and security software, and Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP), a communication service that bypasses traditional telephone lines and courses its data through broadband lines instead.
“We knew what we wanted to do, so we went about implementing the plan,” Syfu explains. “A good thing about that move was that we had the existing backbone to support it, so we only had to buy the license to distribute anti-virus and security software and to secure the lines we needed for the VoIP service.”
Despite taking this new direction in its business, the company maintained prepaid Internet service vending as its core business. Syfu explains that the new ventures of Tri-Isys were meant to reinforce and not to totally reroute its prepaid Internet service, the demand for which has remained consistent.
“It’s a way to diversify, to mix things up a little bit,” he says. “This is the only way for the company to grow: by maintaining our dominance of the prepaid market, and by becoming more aggressive in penetrating the corporate and business segments.”