Estimating Adam Internet’s Broadband Customer Numbers

Executive Summary

I estimate that Adam Internet is somewhere between 27% and 30% the size of Internode, which equates to between 42,249 and 46,934 broadband customers.  This estimate does not include other services such as 3G, VoIP and dialup customers.

Introduction

Adam Internet” is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) based in my home town of Adelaide, Australia.  They are tightly focussed in terms of the markets that they operate – only providing residential broadband services (apart from 3G) to South Australia and the Northern Territory.  I’ve never used them, but by all accounts they are a very reputable company, with high levels of customer satisfaction and a strong parochial following in the Whirlpool forums.  Adam Internet is also the eternal, bitter, blood-rivals of Internode.  Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration.  I wanted to inject a bit of drama.

Nothing like a bit of drama.

Anyway, as a privately owned company, Adam Internet is not required to make public how many customers it has.  Indeed, when it comes to operational data, they play their cards very close to their chest indeed.  That’s fine.  It’s not really any of our business.  However, when the company last chose to talk about subscriber numbers, it was “about 75,000 customers“.  It’s not clear whether this is just residential broadband customers, or all customers including VoIP, dialup, and other services.

The Challenge

I thought it would be fun to look at some ratios available in the public domain and then, keeping with the Adam-Internet-vs.-Internode theme of this post, use Internode as a base line to estimate just the number of Adam Internet broadband customers.

The Data

Adam Internet and Internode both attract a very loyal following among the ne’er-do-wells of the Whirlpool forums.  With that in mind, the first metric I looked at was the ratio between respondents to the last three annual Whirlpool surveys.  Assuming that there’s a correlation between Whirlpool survey respondents and number of customers this may be a useful measure of relative size.  The results are summarised in the table below:

Whirlpool survey year Adam Internet respondents Internode respondents Respondent Ratio
2006 707 3,156 0.224
2007 1,003 2,981 0.336
2008 673 2,649 0.254
Average 794 2,929 0.271

Source: Total respondents taken from the question, “Would you recommend your ISP to other people?”

Results from the last three Whirlpool surveys suggests that Adam Internet is 27.1% the size of Internode.

The second metric I used was Google Trends.  Assuming that there’s a correlation between Google searches and customer numbers, Google Trends may be a useful indicator of a company’s market share.  I compared average traffic of “Internode” to “Adam Internet” (without the quotes) from Australia over the last 30 days.  At the time of writing, Adam Internet’s Google traffic was 27% of Internode’s, a remarkably close match to the average Whirlpool survey ratio above.

adam-vs-internode-google-trends

Results from the Google Trends comparison suggests that Adam Internet is 27% the size of Internode.

Finally, I turned to Wikipedia.  At the time of writing, Internode had 300 staff to Adam Internet‘s 100 staff.  Assuming that both companies adhere to roughly the same staff-to-customers ratio, Wikipedia suggests that Adam Internet is about 30% of the size of Internode.

The Results

Of course I’m more than likely totally wrong in all my assumptions.  And probably the entire approach is wrong.  However, the three sources of Whirlpool, Google and Wikipedia all seem to suggest that Adam Internet is somewhere between 27% and 30% the size of Internode.  If wrong then at least it’s consistently wrong.

But if I’m confident that the percentage market share is in the ballpark, how would this translate to actual numbers of broadband customers?

Back in September last year I had a crack at modelling Internode’s growth rate.  The formula that I came up with then was:

Internode broadband customers = 463.047 * loge(0.626 * loge[year])

At the time of writing (22 May 2009), “year” is 9.389.  Plugging that value into the formula suggests that Internode currently have 156,447 broadband customers.  Admittedly a lot has changed at Internode since September 2008.  They’ve released many new products onto the market including (in no particular order) Chumby, Tivo, ADSL “TwoPlus” and even (rather belatedly) a 3G product of their own.  Not to mention the obvious problem that my model was a big dodge right from the start.  But the last media release I read from Internode quoted “more than 150,000 (broadband) customers” nationally.  I guess if Internode had more than 160,000 broadband customers they’d say so?  So I think it’s fair to say the number is between 150-160k.  Perhaps Internode are just being modest.  Or, God forbid, perhaps my model is proving to be not only correct but remarkably resilient!

Conclusion

If Adam Internet is somewhere between 27% and 30% the size of Internode as indicated, and if Internode have 156,447 broadband customers as modelled, it follows that Adam Internet have between 42,249 and 46,934 broadband customers of their own.  If correct then the difference between that figure and the publicly quoted number of 75,000 customers could be made up of 3G, VoIP, dialup and other Internet services.

This analysis is just a bit of fun.  Don’t take it too seriously.  Having said that, constructive feedback is always welcome.  Do you think I’m in the ball park or so off base it’s not even funny?  Would a senior Adam Internode rep like to comment?

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4 Responses

  1. Interesting analysis. Two questions: how many customers would that estimate they both have now (March 2010), and using the same method, what is the estimated number of customers for Exetel?

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been meaning to revisit this analysis with some new data points that have emerged since it was first done, but my rough Friday-night-back-of-the-envelope estimate puts Internode at 187k to 190k ADSL customers as at March 2010. Adam Internet and Exetel look to be about the same size as each other, so around 1/3rd of that figure, or roughly 65k ADSL customers. John Linton & yourself I think have both mentioned publicly on your blogs that Exetel have >100k customers, but that would be more than just ADSL.

      • Very interesting. Looking at bandwidth on Internodes own network diagram, I would come to a similar conclusion, based on their international circuits only.

        • “Very interesting” as in… there’s a ballpark and I’m in it (in regards to the 65k figure)? 😛 How many ADSL subscribers does Exetel have?

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