JetStream numbers "horrifying"

After four years in operation Telecom's JetStream service has only attracted 13,000 residential customers to its full-speed offering.

After four years in operation Telecom's JetStream service has only attracted 13,000 residential customers to its full-speed offering.

Telecom, which is aiming to reach 100,000 residential broadband users by the end of next year, revealed this week that almost three quarters of its 48,350 JetStream residential customers are on the JetStream Starter service. Telecom's advertising says "JetStream Starter is not broadband" as it only runs at 128 Kbit/s.

However, Telecom spokesperson Anna Kermode says Telecom will continue to count the JetStream Starter customers towards its broadband target. She says Telecom is differentiating between "broadband connections" and "broadband speed".

"JetStream Starter is not broadband speed but you can upgrade to broadband speed. Theoretically it is a broadband connection, but it's not at broadband speed."

Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) chief executive Ernie Newman says he's speechless that 73% of users are on JetStream Starter. "It's horrifying. I'm lost for words."

Newman says he knew the JetStream Starter figures were included but "didn't realise they skewed the result so much." Newman says Telecom isn't the only organisation that will be recording just how many broadband customers it has.

"Ultimately the OECD will be looking at those figures and I will certainly be taking it up with them when I talk to them next month."

Newman says Telecom's lack of success with broadband uptake makes it clear that the recent draft decision by the telecommunications commissioner to unbundle the Telecom network is the right one.

At the announcement of the 100,000 user target, chief operating officer Simon Moutter said: "The 100,000 target ... is more than just a number. It represents the sort of critical mass needed to make convergence a reality." The statement refers to "broadband" seven times but doesn't include references to either JetStream or JetStream starter.

In the statement Moutter went on to say "By the middle of this year, Telecom will have launched a new range of fixed line broadband packages and services aimed at meeting specific customers needs at a competitive price. For instance, more flexible plans to cater for people who are heavy downloaders or are keen gamers, or only access New Zealand content".

Kermode says the new 256 Kbit/s service is designed to lure JetStream Starter customers up to a broadband connection.

"We're expecting a lot of migration that way."

This month Telecom has launched a new speed point for its JetStream service - JetStream Home will run at a symmetrical speed of 256Kbit/s and reduced the ISP charge for JetStream customers from $20 a month to $10. Users can also access a range of broadband-styled content, including short films, internet radio and game servers.

JetStream proper does not have a set speed as it's dependent on distance from the exchange, however Telecom tries to ensure metropolitan customers reach 2Mbit/s download and rural customers get 512Kbit/s. JetStream starter runs at 128Kbit/s

Telecom launched JetStream in 1999 after trialling the service for two years.

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