A Zonbu for 1/4 of your monthly broadband bill?

As I’ve wandered around the web and read the different comments people have made about the Zonbu, one of the more popular themes that has emerged is “Subscription fees suck! I’d buy one of these but I’m not payin’ no stinkin’ fee”.

As someone who has over twelve years in the ISP/IT/broadband space, I find this to be a very strange comment.

No one seems to have an issue with paying $40+/month for their broadband access. Or even more than that for their cell phone plan…

Let’s do some math…

When I started selling broadband on one of the earliest launches in North America, we were charging something like $65/month. That quickly came down in to the low $40’s where it has been ever since.

That’s right, for about ten years broadband has typically cost around $40/month in North America (I know, I know, you can get DSL cheaper if you take long term contracts etc. but in general the full whack price is $40/month).

$40/month X 12 months = $480/year. Or, as we have pointed out on this blog, more than the cost of a modest but nicely equipped entry level PC from someone like Dell or HP. In fact I’m going to jump over to HP’s site and price up a basic PC with a flat panel, I’ll be right back. No seriously, I will, one second…

$430 bucks gets me a Celeron 1.6 GHz box with 512MB of RAM, Vista Home, a CD burner/DVD reader, on board audio and video, mouse and keyboard and a 17″ Wide screen flat panel LCD. We all know we could do better on specs if we shopped around a bit.

So – you pay more for your broadband in one year that you can buy a basic PC for that you get to use for three years or more.

Let me say that again. You pay more for your broadband in one year than you would to buy a basic PC.

Subscription fees don’t suck…

Zonbu has a valid reason for charging the small monthly subscription fee; not just to cover the cost of the storage provided with it, but also to cover the cost of supporting the end users through the web and e-mail but also to cover the cost of the software improvements they are going to package and deliver.

Frankly, in this day and age, I think $12.95/month is relatively cheap insurance to store all your digital photos and other documents online in a large data center. If you’re never had a hard drive fail and destroy family photos or critical business documents, then you may not be able to appreciate just how much backup is worth emotionally.

Internet Ideals

While the idea that everything should somehow be free if it is related to the Internet or computers, the reality is that it costs money to provide the kind of support Zonbu is offering.

Admittedly, the quality of support and frequency of updates and improvements is completely unknown at this point. But I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Their presentation and forethought, as exhibited on their website, would lead me to believe they’re “the real deal”.

The founders have a good track record and I think the timing is right.

It appears to be good value

If Zonbu can deliver on the promise then their box/service represents real value.

Time will tell, as we dig deeper in to life with the Zonbu, if there are any major hurdles, and how the company performs under load.

-Mr. Zonbu

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