Telecom kills off Jetstream Partnering Programme

Telco promises full-rate DSL will remain available to ISPs

Telecom says the the demise of the DSL Jetstream Partnering Programme (JSPP) resale scheme on August 5 doesn't mean ISPs will no longer be able to offer full-rate DSL to business customers. The telco says JSPP will be effectively replaced by its Wholesale Services Agreement (WSA) DSL plan.

When Telecom first announced the move, Computerworld was contacted by ISPs who were concerned that come August, their business customers would either have to shift to WSA or Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS) plans with much slower upstream speed than JSPP offers.

Initially, it was thought that the full-rate plans would only be available to customers directly from Telecom, but Justin Caswell, Telecom's wholesale services group communications manger, says ISPs wishing to resell full-rate plans after August 5 can do so, by signing up for the telco's WSA scheme. The full-rate plans would then be provided as a network layer 3 service with a discount of either 6% or 16%, depending on which business zone the customer is in. Caswell adds that any new plans that come up will be automatically made available to ISPs.

Set up several years ago, when DSL became widespread in New Zealand, JSPP customers are billed by both Telecom, which takes the lion's share of the monthly access fees plus all the excess charges, and ISPs, which receive $10 per month and a small commisison for the first eyar. In comparison, the UBS and Wholesale Services Agreement (WSA) DSL plans allow ISPs to bill customers entirely themselves.

JSPP features several different plans, including the full-rate DSL with high downstream and upstream speeds — up to 8Mbit/s and 800kbit/s respectively under ideal conditions — which are popular with SME customers despite the higher cost.

Explaining Telecom's reasoning for removing the older resale scheme, wholesale strategy and planning manager, Martin Butler, says JSPP has "been around since dawn of time and run its course". He adds that with resale DSL available under the Wholesale Services Agreement and the pseudo-wholesale commercial proxy of the Commerce Commission's Unbundled Bitstream Service, JSPP is not in demand by customers and adds cost and complexity to manage. Unlike the newer resale DSL plans, JSPP was set up with small monthly data caps with steep charges if exceeded, leading to several reported incidents of customers receiving thousand-dollar "bill shocks" due to inadvertent excess data usage.

The move to end JSPP was announced in an email to ISPs two weeks' ago, and was met with consternation by Maxnet's managing director Brett Herkt. According to Herkt, ISPs must migrate existing JSPP customers to either UBS or WSA DSL by the end of August at the latest. If not, Telecom will switch off the customer. Herkt says Maxnet has many business customers on full-rate JSPP DSL, and is concerned that it won't have an equivalent product to offer for the migration. Telecom will release 1Mbit/s and 2Mbit/s business UBS plans in the middle of the year, but Herkt says that timeframe is much too short as Maxnet hasn't yet been informed of the terms and conditions of the plans.

Asked by Computerworld whether Telecom intended to switch off or market Xtra to customers who haven't been migrated to WSA or UBS DSL, Butler didn't specify what Telecom would do. Instead he says, "in terms of the DSL relationship, they are currently with Telecom in the sense that Chris Thompson [head of Telecom Xtra] bills them" for that service. In a later interview however, Caswell said Telecom is "actively working with each" ISP on customising a migration plan to move their customers to other solutions.

Another ISP manager who wishes to remain anonymous says his company has also received notification from Telecom about the demise of JSPP, but adds that the UBS plans are unsuitable for his business customers. The upstream speed of 128kbit/s compares poorly to the 800kbit/s maximum that is possible with full-rate JSPP, he says, meaning the businesses will run into problems sharing UBS connections. The ISP manager says the latest announcement forces him to look into supplying business customers with wireless connections rather than DSL.

Asked if the recent draft determination on TelstraClear's application for regulated UBS has affected Telecom's plans to retire JSPP, Caswell says "it hasn't changed anything for us." He says it has always been Telecom's intention to offer a layer 3 based service as well as the layer two tunnelling protocol commercial proxy UBS, as they meet different wholesale market needs.

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