Freedom of routerchoice for everyone in The Netherlands!

AVM – manufacturer of routers – believes that every consumer of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) has the right to choose and use a private modem and router instead of equipment that the ISP provides. In the Netherlands – by law – consumers have to use the (cheap) equipment provided by the ISP. Only few ISP’s offer a more advanced and more expensive (AVM) router.

AVM is one of the leading forces behind VTKE (Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers), fighting for freedom of router choice. For many years AVM/VTKE lobbied to have the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) reassess this law.

Our storytelling to illustrate the situation: Imagine that you want a smartphone subscription from Vodafone. You go to the store, and you ask for a subscription. But it won’t be of any good without a device. So, you need a smartphone. And then… the retailer says, here is our 150 euro Xiaomi device for you. And you don’t get anything to pick. No Samsung, no Apple, nothing. No choice whatsoever. That is what happens in the Dutch internet market when you get an internet subscription for your home. You don’t get to choose the modem/router.

Finally, in H2 2021 it was decided by the ACM that consumers and companies have the right to choose their own modem and router. The ISP can’t force consumers anymore to use their router as of January 2022. Yeah, victory at last! Now everyone can buy an AVM router and benefit from all the extras that they offer compared to the cheap routers most ISPs provide!

Target audience:
Policiticans / ACM – ISP’s / telco industry – End users (consumers and SMB’s) – tech and non tech

Although AVM is very pro-freedom of router choice, we had to carefully balance all messaging and activities. The ISPs are important business partners to them and no matter what the outcome would be, we didn’t want to jeopardize any of those business relations. Therefore, at first, all communication activities were under the flag of VTKE and only later, or, off the record (when we considered it beneficial), AVM would talk about it.

We carefully shaped the messaging with AVM (the smartphone subscription scenario and benefits when you get to choose) and created a messaging house with core messages and underlying proof of these messages. In all outreaches and during all media talks, these messages were reflected. Spokespersons were media trained specifically for this messaging.

We had to carefully balance between VTKE and AVM, which isn’t difficult in case of press releases. But the expert spokesperson for both organisations is Eric van Uden. So, when it comes to meetings with media, interviews and relational events, we had to be very precise and stress towards media on behalf of which organization Eric would be speaking. Especially since AVM didn’t want its relationship with ISP’s jeopardized. Therefor we also conducted background, off record interviews throughout the year at events, tradeshows and during meetups and lunches.

This has been a long process, that already started in 2019 when the ACM consulted the market but postponed any decisions to 2021. What helped was the smartphone subscription storytelling. It takes the tech angle out of the story and illustrates the bizarreness of the situation and makes it tangible for the consumer. In terms of tactics, we used several media outreach tactics to keep the media focus on the ball, varying from personal approaches, meet ups at trade shows where we always made sure that we touched upon the freedom of router choice matter and relational events, wining & dining with key media where we touched upon the topic.

Activities – H1 2021

  • messaging sessions and media-training with spokespersons
  • multiple press releases on behalf of VTKE – emphasizing the significance of freedom of router choice; sharing insights on other EU markets with freedom of router choice; disputing arguments and sharing statements with media.
  • high-level interviews by VTKE with national dailies on the freedom of router topic
  • off record and/or under embargo high-level media interviews with AVM

H2 2021-Jan 2022: July ’21 ACM decided to implement free router choice per January 2022!

  • landing pages dedicated to the subject by AVM
  • staged approach for tech media and lifestyle media
  • tutorial articles to educate consumers on the topic (how to’s / what you should know, what to look at when buying…)
  • introduction of a special router for superfast cable
  • lifestyle media: outreach with a focus on benefits close to January 2022
  • tech media: long-term approach on the topic, tutorials, product news, benefits, installation guidelines
  • end of January editorial tour visiting national dailies and consumer tech media to celebrate the decision and to create extra awareness for AVM when freedom of route choice was a fact for life.
  • Impact:
    We scored over 125 articles about such an abstract, technical topic! All these 125 articles are a direct result of our media activities, whether it is based on statements that we shared, press releases we issues, under embargo interviews etc. We managed not only to secure them in the tech news, but also in national dailies and national news platforms. Of course, we secured IT and consumer tech platforms, but we also managed to engage and create awareness in tech savvy lifestyle media. No other manufacturer has been quoted, cited or interviewed on this topic. We were constantly on the ball with new insights, news, surveys. Interviews with national news platforms including the exclusive Dutch Financial Daily, the two largest popular national dailies (AD and Telegraaf), De Volkskrant and the largest consumer tech platform Tweakers.The reach (calculated by Meltwater (online) and Media Info Group (print) was over 91 million (in a country with 17 million habitants) between January 2021 and February 2022.Why this campaign should win:
    Freedom of router choice is a topic with very little interest for most people. They will accept the router provided by their ISP and that is it. They are not tech savvy and don’t want to install modem and router in their homes themselves. By illustrating the unfairness and bizarre situation that the advantages for the households and the serious limits that their Wi-Fi faces (even when they are not aware of it) and the internet subscription / smartphone story illustrated perfectly how bizarre it was.Links to supporting materials: AVM

    1. Final stage – plan 2022 – freedom of router choice going ‘live’ on January 28 2022
    2. Messaging house
    3. Media training for spokes
    4. Coverage reports 2021 and 2022
    5. Landingpages – microwebsite (translated by PC and backlinks in media outreach):
    6. Microwebsite AVM – Your Modem
    7. Microwebsite AVM – Your choice
    8. Most glamours coverage in the national dailies: De Volkskrant, RTL Nieuws, Financieel Dagblad
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