The free ISP surf4nix was offered for sale to Clear Communications before its customers were transferred yesterday to the owner of its erstwhile competitor i4free.
Clear is understood to have declined to purchase surf4nix from its founder and CEO Aaron Brett.
Surf4nix was the only free ISP aligned with Telecom earlier this year. In April, Brett went so far as to issue a press statement headed 'Free Internet: what is all 0867 the fuss about?' in which he criticised i4free, which used Clear's network, for failing to "play by the rules". He said surf4nix was "not routing or terminating calls with the Clear network so our customers can surf the net in the comfort of knowing they will not be disconnected.”
But surf4nix ran up debts of around $130,000 with Telecom as the year progressed – and now Brett is working for i4free, whose owner, Free Internet Access Limited (FIAL), will henceforth provide service for surf4nix customers.
Brett told IDGNet that money had not changed hands between the former rivals.
"There was no commercial arrangement. Surf4nix.com Limited ceased trading and FIAL is providing access to surf4nix customers," he said.
A notice sent to surf4nix's customers yesterday morning said the company was "no longer able to offer nationwide internet access" but FIAL would provide service to customers in the Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton local calling areas.
Customers outside those areas have been promised service from FIAL within two to eight weeks. The Auckland-based ISP Attica, which is part of the same CallPlus group as FIAL (and provides outsourced services to i4free) has offered them a deal providing 100 hours' access per month for $14.95 including GST, with the first month free.
The customers covered by the FIAL offer will be able to keep their surf4nix addresses and are to be emailed by FIAL with instructions. A dedicated helpdesk for the surf4nix customers has already been set up on (09) 915 7585. FIAL is also introducing a browser-based webmail service so that all surf4nix users can continue to send and receive email.