Aardvark
Flat rate or not?
Copyright © 1996 to Bruce Simpson

What is "flat rate internet access"?

The accepted definition all over the world is that of an Internet smorgasbord - all you can eat for a single fixed price per month.

In the US the benchmark for flat-rate access seems to be about US$19.95 per month, a rate charged by most of the large players.

Here in New Zealand, IHUG started the flat-rate charging system and were the sole-players for quite some time. Then in the wake of a huge restructuring of its pricing, ICONZ introduced what they called a flat rate - but which wasn't - it was just a minimum level of commitment.

Subsiquently several ISPs have added a "clayton's flat-rate" to their price list and IHUG are not pleased with what they obviously consider a misrepresentation.

Last month IHUG and Web World had discussions over what the words "flat rate" meant after Web World also offered a clayton's service. Fortunately (and uncharacteristicly for the Net these days) the issue was quickly resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

Last month also saw TPNet attempt to redefine the meaning of flat-rate as it attempted to unilaterally change the terms of its contracts.

Now IHUG has targetted NZNET, the latest ISP to get in on the clayton's bandwagon with its new "Standard Flat Rate Plus" (an oxymoron?) and "Flat Rate Plus Gold" accounts which offer 30 or 80 hrs respectively for a fixed sum then an hourly rate for any extra time used.

Tim Wood, an IHUG director has publicly warned NZNET that they should change their advertising or face the consequences. Wood was obviously not impressed when he received a "your service sucks" response to his requests that NZNET review the names for its subscription plans.

More on this story as it comes to hand.


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