Satellite broadband wholesaler Bay City Communications is launching a rural broadband service, called Rocket Broadband, today.
The IPSTAR satellite, owned by Thaicom, covers all of New Zealand, says Bay City managing director Tony Baird.
The company is offering three plans — Explorer, Discovery and Voyager. At $49.95 (excluding GST) per month, the Explorer plan offers a 256Kbit/s downlink and 128Kbit/s up, with a 500MB data cap. The next step up is 512Kbit/s down, 128Kbit/s up and 1GB data cap for $89.95 per month. For $109.95 per month, customers get 1Mbit/s down, 256Kbit/s up and a 2GB cap.
Actual speed will be affected by the number of users at peak times, but the company is not expecting speeds to drop dramatically, says Baird.
Price has, up till now, been a barrier for uptake of the service, says Bay City marketing manager Tim Trewinnard. Previously, every installation cost $400 in addition to the $1,500 satellite dish. The company managed to slash prices by negotiating purchasing conditions with Thaicom, he says.
Besides the standard installation cost of $149, there are no additional costs, says Trewinnard.
Customers can choose to buy extra services, such as increased data caps and a digital phone service, which is planned to launch in July, says Trewinnard.
Bay City currently has close to 10,000 customers, and is now targeting another 40,000 customers, says Baird. The company estimates around 7% of New Zealand residents are unable to get traditional broadband to their homes. Potential new customers include farmers; people living in lifestyle blocks; bach or holiday home owners; urban fringe residents and people who are currently unsatisfied with their broadband connection, says Trewinnard.
The service could bring benefits such as reduced fuel costs and time savings thanks to online banking and online shopping, he says. Other benefits are social inclusion and the ability to network online, do email and participate in video-conferencing, as well as distance education and research online for school children, he adds.
Across the Tasman, the Australian government's Broadband Guarantee Program offers eligible consumers access to subsidised broadband with a guaranteed minimum level of service. The Australian government pays $2,500 per installation of the satellite broadband and that has greatly helped uptake over there, says Phil Cross, business development manager of IPSTAR Australia.
The satellite broadband service is available through resellers, for example Farmside, Wireless Nation and Orcon. Corporate plans are available through Gen-i.