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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Top 10 questions for CPW in its' trading update

Tomorrow is the day of the Carphone Warehouse Q2 Trading Update and these are the questions I’d ask Charles Dunstone. I’d also have my Charm Offensive Deflector Shields on full blast.

1. How many customers are unbundled?
Although interesting, I don’t want to hear about how many loss making customers CPW have (Dunstone has already admitted he is losing money on reseller accounts), I want to know how many are generating positive margin.

2. How many LLU exchanges have customers live on them?
Although interesting, I don’t want to hear about how many exchanges have equipment sat idle in them – I want to know how many exchanges have equipment live with backhaul onto the Opal network and have actual customers using the kit.

3. What is the Average Speed that customers experience?
What is the average speed that CPW is delivering at 8pm (busy hour) to its’ users? We all know the “8Mbps marketing” and we are getting to know the “reality”, but it would be nice for Dunstone to stand there and admit that marketing and reality are two very different things.

4. What is the Reliability of the TalkTalk service?
How much downtime has the TalkTalk network suffered over the month? I would also include when specific bits of kit (eg DNS servers) are down which render the TalkTalk service useless to the average punter.

5. What are the Call Centre Volumes?
Dunstone will spin how many extra people he has recruited in the call centre, but I’d like to know how many calls per day these call centres are handling and more importantly how many calls are being dropped because the queue length is too long.

6. What is the status of the AOL purchase?
Is Dunstone still thinking of purchasing AOL UK? Does he feel that more consolidation is inevitable in the industry? Would Dunstone consider selling TalkTalk?

7. Are CPW planning to offer Mobile Operators' Broadband offerings?
Is the industry gossip true that Vodafone has asked Carphone to sell its’ broadband offering with equal prominence to the TalkTalk offering in the Carphone stores? Has anyone else asked? Does Dunstone see a conflict of strategy between his main paymasters (the mobile operators) and the TalkTalk business?

8. What is the profitability of the MVNOs?
How much money is Fresh in the UK still losing? Given the fact that Fresh has been around for a long time and never made money what is the thinking behind Carphone launching more MVNOs in other countries?

9. How much of the Retail growth is accounted for by the wholesale operations?
How many units is the wholesale operation (ex-Hugh Symon) in the UK now selling? How much of the increase in retail sales does this acquisition account for? Is this operation making a positive contribution?

10. What is the status of the USA expansion?
How many operators have Carphone signed up to sell their product? Do the recent Verizon Wireless comments that Carphone are not independent and push whoever pays them the biggest commission worry them?