Telecom says it will lower the upload speed of its retail ADSL service, Jetstream, to 128kbit/s making it comparable to the wholesale Unbundled Bitstream Service plans available from other ISPs, according to wholesale services general manager Tim Lusk.
The change has been made to ensure that Telecom, which is currently selling Jetstream with a 192kbit/s upload speed, doesn't enjoy an unfair advantage on competing providers selling UBS.
At the same time, Lusk says that the 1 and 2Mbit/s UBS are on track for a March launch, with ISP trials starting early next month.
The existing Everyday, Swift and Plus plans will be renamed to Discover, Adventure and Navigate, and the changes will come into effect on March 24. Download speeds will remain the same - 1Mbit/s for Discover and 2Mbit/s for Adventure and Navigate. Data caps will also not change, remaining at 1GByte per month for Discover and 10GByte for Adventure and Navigate, with the two former plans throttling down to 64kbit/s once the limit is reached, while the latter attracts a 2c/MB excess data usage charge.
Pricing for the plans will be the same as the existing ones: $34.95 per month for the Discover and $59.95 for Adventure and Navigate. Customers who do not put their toll calls through Telecom will pay a $10 a month feee on top of those prices.
Existing Jetstream customers will be "grandfathered" and not have their download speeds reduced, says John Goulter, Telecom's general manager of government and industry relations. Asked why Telecom didn't just upgrade the UBS plans to 192Kbit/s instead of lowering all DSL plans by 64kbit/s, Goulter says that 128kbit/s is "much more the norm" internationally.
Goulter says that Telecom has been heavily promoting broadband lately, but felt it needed to simplify the choice of plans for customers. Telecom is also committed to the principle of equality in the market, Goulter says, and wants to provide a level playing field.
However, Goulter is not ruling out the introduction of DSL plans with higher upload speeds in the future. Telecom previously said it would roll out the 15/1MBit/s next generation ADSL2+ this year
Brett Herkt, general manager of Auckland ISP Maxnet says that the likely reason for Telecom's changed plans was Commerce Commission pressure. Herkt says he would have preferred Telecom to increase the UBS upload speed to 192kbit/s, so as not to lower the quality of service. Having said that, Herkt is pleased that all DSL products are now the same from Telecom and its competitors.
James Watts, managing director of Palmerston North ISP Inspire Net, expressed concern at the controversial "churn fee" for customers remaining. "It's fine for Telecom to now lower its speed, but users have already moved across to Telecom because of its better plans and ISPs will now incur a churn fee to get those lost customers back," Watts says.