Xtra considering joining Hitwise profiling scheme

New Zealand's largest ISP, Xtra, is considering subscribing to Hitwise, the service that tracks online traffic using ISP logs.

Hitwise has four of the six largest New Zealand ISPs as clients and can track hundreds of thousands of users, but doesn't yet have the Telecom subsidiary as a contributor to its monitoring statistics.

"We're currently working through the decision process but haven't reached a conclusion yet," says Xtra spokesman Matt Bostwick. "We're always keen on helping provide statistics that are of some worth to the industry."

Bostwick says Xtra is always open to ideas and suggestions to better help surfers and developers better understand the internet but the research must be of "good quality" to make it worthwhile.

Hitwise increases user privacy by stripping out any user information before the data is transferred out of the ISP, says co-founder Adrian Giles, and works closely with the ISPs. "We have a revenue sharing scheme with the ISPs so they get something financial from it along with the data."

Hitwise's model is one of three that are operated in New Zealand. AC Nielsen's NetRatings division operates a panel of 2000 users who have software added to their browsers that follows their online moves, while Red Sheriff adds software to a developer's site to monitor traffic. While Hitwise has the largest sample group - nearly half of all New Zealand internet traffic - it hasn't had that relationship with Xtra to provide a broader picture.

Giles refuses to comment on which ISPs are involved in the trial, saying it would be like approaching AC Nielsen to ask who their panel of users are.

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