The troubled voice of the Dutch hosting industry

22 March, 2008 (21:43) | Hosting industry

The Dutch hosting industry is in an impasse; the voice of the industry is lost in an internal struggle.

There are two industry associations in The Netherlands:
• Dutch Hosting Provider Association (DHPA)
• ISPConnect

The DHPA, founded October 2007, is an association focused on the larger internet service providers. Members are top ISPs including KPN, Interoute, Rackspace, Leaseweb and IS. Membership rules prevent small companies from joining the association and therefore it’s a small yet professional group focused on lobbying.

ISPConnect, founded November 2006, is different: every ISP can join. In just a year, over 50 small and medium enterprises joined. Goal of ISPConnect is creating a powerful voice and represent the industry’s SMEs in government and industry lobbying. ISPConnect had it’s first big success in the aftermath of the numeric landrush of the NL zone, controlled by not-for-profit organization SIDN.

There has been criticism on ISPConnect, claiming the association does not represent the hosting industry because the members are no market leaders nor industry players. Another brought up issue is that some ISPs do not share the opinion of ISPConnect.

Companies large enough to meet the tough requirements will choose to join the DHPA, it’s a small and privileged group and a matter of prestige to list your company among the top dogs. Smaller companies can either join ISPConnect or decide not to join any industry association. Although companies as SWSoft, Interconnect, Interlab and COMBELL are able to join DHPA, they have chosen to join ISPConnect. Next to these companies, ISPConnect also has members outside the typical webhosting sector.
Where DHPA is backed by the reputation of their members, ISPConnect still has to fight for it’s existence. Smaller ISPs do attack the associations board.  The lack of cooperation in the industry hurts us all in the end.

It’s very important the voice of small companies is heard as these differ from those of industry leaders. Every entrepreneur, every voice counts. The openness of ISPConnect is important to the industry.
There should be no uncertainty whether to invite DHPA or ISPConnect as a representative of the industry. Their presence in decision making is vital for the success of both organizations. As their preferred members differ, cooperation between DHPA and ISPConnect is important.

The government is playing with our businesses. New laws restrict our companies in several ways as more responsibility is put on our shoulders.
But not only the government is an issue. Organizations as SIDN should also be forced to listed more to the industry as it’s important we do not loose our competitive edge. For example, the less time and effort we have to put into domain registrations, the lower the pricing will be and the more domain names can and will be registered.

A very powerful message of ISPConnect is the offensive started in the aftermath of the numeric landrush in the NL zone. ISPConnect released a short but thorough report on the failure of the landrush and it was quoted in the press. The president of ISPConnect got the opportunity to create a voice for the represented part of the industry with a very successful outcome.

The relative young age of ISPConnect allows members to voice their opinion and influence the direction of the association.
As an industry association, ISPConnects is here for all ISPs, not only it’s members but the whole industry. Government organizations do not talk with separate companies, their preferred counterparts are industry associations.

Last but not least: ISPConnect is not only a lobby organization; it’s also a networking platform, something reached through the regular member meetings.

Even if personal opinions differs from ISPConnect’s official standpoint, I encourage every independent small and medium hosting company to join this association and make their voice heard.