Home working made easier by ADSL
talks to KURT SANSONE on the potential of high-speed data services
DataStreams CEO, Godfrey Vella has come a long way since his student
worker days when he was posted with one of the work corps under military
discipline, created by the Mintoff government.
Today, Mr Vella heads a company that is at the forefront of technology.
Taking a slice out of his busy schedule he found time to talk to The
DataStream offers a whole range of services, however it was inevitable
that the discussion fell on ADSL.
ADSL was introduced on the market late last year and according to Mr
Vella has proved to be a success among Internet users. This technology
offers a wider bandwidth than the normal dial-up connection and could
be used for a number of services apart from the Internet.
"The response we received was beyond our expectations and I estimate
that Malta has more households than the European average connected to
broadband technology", Mr Vella said with a glimmer in his eyes.
He insisted that ADSL is particularly suited for business people. Among
the various business solutions, DataStream offers a teleworker service.
This makes it possible for users to access their office network from
Mr Vella said, "ADSLs dedicated line technology, in which
the user has a personal line, offers increased security. It may also
be used by a businesses wanting to create a network between its various
ADSLs introduction has not been without its problems. Mr. Vella
is the first to admit that in some cases provisioning has taken three
weeks or more.
"Providing clients with ADSL is more complex then other systems,
firstly because the condition of the telephone line has to be established.
This is a world-wide phenomenon", he explained.
However, DataStream is aiming for a one week limit from when the application
is submitted and Mr Vella is confident that they "are getting there."
Although ADSL is offered by DataStream the user has to purchase the
service from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This means that the
end product experienced by users depends greatly on the capabilities
of the ISP of their choice.
Mr Vella admitted that sometimes the problems that arise are linked
to the service offered by the customers ISP.
"There are some ISPs who are up to standard, while others are amateurish
in their approach. We have to work with everybody, however users can
shop around for the ISP of their choice", Mr. Vella insisted.
Turning to customer care, Mr Vella was adamant.
"If a client has a problem whatever it is, we have the responsibility
to solve it. We sometimes tread a fine line because technically clients
belong to the ISP they are subscribed to. We sometimes face ridiculous
problems such as unplugged modems, but our duty is to help users just
Being a player in the telecoms field the inevitable question of human
resources cropped up.
Mr Vella said that it was as difficult for DataStream as any other IT
or telecom company to find the right people.
"We have got some of the best people on the island, however people
with experience in specialised areas are very limited. I personally
believe that education is the key to the problem", Mr. Vella added.
Since 1992, when he was involved in the working group to create a national
IT startegy, Mr Vella has been stressing the need to gear up our educational
system to the changing needs of industry. "Progress has been done
but not fast enough", he said.
DataStream employs around 40 people and is a subsidiary of Maltacom
plc. It acts as the data services arm of the group. The company, headed
by Mr Vella, commenced operations last year and started offering a range
of high-speed data services. It will certainly be involved in Maltacoms
digital interactive TV venture when this is launched commercially.