Xtra offers cheap toll calls as part of new plan

Telecom's Internet service provider, Xtra, is bundling discounted toll calls as part of a new $24.95 flat-rate access plan while maintaining that it is separate from its parent company.

Telecom's Internet service provider, Xtra, is bundling discounted toll calls as part of a new flat-rate access plan while maintaining that it is separate from its parent company.

Xtra has long stressed its independence of Telecom, and Xtra marketing manager Chris Thompson says Xtra offering a package including Telecom toll calls is no from different ISP rival Ihug bundling Internet access with telephone calls from "a large tolls carrier who shall remain unnamed".

Xtra has cut its flat-rate Internet access fee from $39.95 to $24.95 and throwing in the cut-price toll calls as well.

The Xtra Value Pack, which includes $5 unlimited national toll call weekends until the end of the year and a free copy of CyberPatrol for restricting children’s use of the Web, is aimed at driving up membership.

Asked whether Xtra will be able to make money out of the new rate, Thompson says the ISP’s average revenue per customer is below $20 so the new plan will either have no effect or be positive for revenue.

Xtra currently has 45,000 or 15% of its customers on flat rate. Thompson says in contrast, the world’s largest ISP AOL (America Online) has 93% of customers on flat rate plans.

“Flat rate used to be seen as a product for geeks or for people who are heavy users. The Value Pack is aimed at making it a product for people who want to know what their bill will be each month. We’re hoping it will attract family users."

Thompson says Xtra customers spend an average of 21 hours per month on the Web as opposed to AOL customers who are online 32 hours per month.

“We want to get a whole lot more people on unlimited Internet access. If a whole lot of people do more hours we’ll see increasing traffic to the Xtra portal so we’ll be able to accelerate our portal business as well. It will open the door for Web site based opportunities such as e-commerce, advertising and promotion.”

Existing flat-rate customers will be automatically moved to the new rate and other Xtra customers will be emailed about the new package.

Xtra is also offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee on the quality and reliability of the service, backed with a credit offer up to $100 on the current month’s charges.

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