Wired Country shakes up broadband market

In a move designed to shake up the internet traffic industry, Wired Country will offer customers broadband connectivity running at 10 times the speed they pay for.

In a move designed to shake up the internet traffic industry, Wired Country will offer customers broadband connectivity running at 10 times the speed they pay for.

Users who sign up for 128Kbit/s will find their connection running at over 1Mbit/s. Similarly, users who are on the 512Kbit/s plan will find their connection running at 5Mbit/s.

Wired Country CEO Neil Simmonds says the speed boost will apply to both flat rate and volume-based plans. Wired Country is a wholesale broadband provider in the south Auckland region and several ISPs have signed on to resell the service, including ICONZ, Ihug, Wave Internet, The Packing Shed and Watchdog. Customers at ICONZ, for example, will pay $99 for a 256Kbit/s, flat rate service. That will be "upsized" to 2.5Mbit/s.

"It doesn't make sense to ration a resource that's not scarce," says Simmonds who says the company is bringing the long-term view of the electricity industry to the telco market. Wired Country is wholly-owned by Counties Power, the former Franklin Electric Power Board.

Simmonds says the company doesn't expect to generate an immediate return on its telco investment, taking the long-haul approach to such things.

"We see the cost of connecting as a major roadblock to users taking up broadband. Some of the other companies charge hundreds, even thousands of dollars to connect to the service. We charge $110 and worry about it later."

Wired Country, contrary to its name, is offering a wireless service to end users. After laying fibre cable throughout the Counties region, which stretches from Takanini in the north to Tuakau in the south, Wired Country added on a fixed-wireless solution.

"It's not Wi-Fi, it's in the 3.5 GHz spectrum and it's entirely regulated. We looked at Wi-Fi but we couldn't guarantee quality of service there so went with the regulated option."

Hardcore online gamers won't be disappointed either, says Simmonds.

"Our IT guy is a hard out gamer and he's getting very low ping rates. We have a very good latency on the network."

Simmonds says the changes to the pricing structure should provoke a great deal of interest in broadband, but more importantly will give users the opportunity to try out new things with broadband.

"Getting your email faster, that's just the tip of the iceberg." Simmonds says the company doesn't care if users host a server on the connection - it's entirely up to them.

"No, we don't mind what they do so long as they use the service."

Wired Country is also waiting to hear from the government's broadband initiative, Project Probe, to find out if it's been successful in its tender for the Auckland region.

"We [intend] to extend our service in the future, regardless of Probe's result."

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