Aardvark Daily
Xtra: "One number, one price"
Copyright © 1998 to Bruce Simpson, syndication rights available
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12 Feb 1998

Have Your Say

Telecom Xtra has announced another pricing initiative aimed directly at the rural Internet user.

The NZPlan produces a single access rate of $2.50 per hour from any location in New Zealand and comes just weeks after the Advance20 plan was announced.

Based on Telecom's IPNet technology, the new service sees national access to the Xtra ISP service directed through a single phone number. Xtra claim that this will simplify the task of dialer configuration and support while providing superior reliability.

"If there's a problem with modems or lines in Rotorua, we can have calls from that area handled by equipment in another city within minutes" said Peter Hutterli of Xtra.

When asked whether IP Net would be available to other ISPs on the same basis, Bob Smith, Xtra's General Manager said "We don't get any kind of preferential treatment. There's a Chinese Wall between Xtra and the rest of Telecom. We're treated as just another customer." The first customer for IPNet was Ellcon who have relied on it for the access service associated with their NetTV set-top box.

Although the IP Net service is available to other ISPs, Aardvarks enquiries reveal that pricing is based on a sliding scale related to purchase volumes which mean's it's unlikely that any of the smaller ISPs will be able to compete directly with Xtra's offering, something that is bound to raise some complaints within the industry. This move may also force down the prices charged by many smaller rural ISPs who have to date been able to charge up to $5.00 per hour.

Smith also says that Xtra will be producing some rural-specific content to further enhance the level of service they're now able to offer users outside the main centres.

In this story carried by IDG this morning it would appear that Voyager are about to attempt price-parity with the new Xtra offering. In the past there has been considerable conflict between Voyager and Xtra over the issue of toll-free access.

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