Telecom is to relaunch its consumer broadband services in the next few months with a target of having 100,000 homes connected by the end of next year.
But even before the goal was revealed at a press conference in Auckland this morning, it was being rubbished by Sydney-based telecomms analyst Paul Budde.
Budde says the target, part of the planned convergence of Telecom services including JetStream Mobile, ISP Xtra and its broadband platform, and representing a three-fold increase in user numbers, is "a disgrace".
A Budde press release issued in advance of Telecom's announcement says the plan will drag New Zealand to the bottom of the broadband world rankings.
"This ‘bold’ target will increase the penetration of broadband in internet households in New Zealand to approx 9%. New Zealand will by 2004 be running much further behind the rest of the world--my estimate below 50th position on the world ranking." Korea, in contrast, will have 85% of households on broadband connections by then, he claims.
Budde says "virtually every other country in the developed world" already has a much higher penetration level [and] they're adding new users at a faster rate.
Telecom's plan will rely on more content, better applications and services and a more flexible pricing structure, says COO Simon Moutter, and will get under way in winter.
"Consumer penetration is consistent with other countries at 3% and we want to increase that dramatically." (Budde puts the current broadband penetration rate at 4% of New Zealand households.)
The press conference also heard about Xtra's Mobile Services, which will see new options on Telecom's Mobile JetStream network.
First of these is the ability to use Instant Messaging (IM) on 027 cellphones. From today users are able to receive MSN Messenger texts in addition to regular SMS messages, according to Telecom spokesman Ralph Brayham.
"Whether you're using a PC, a handheld device or a cellphone, you'll be able to log on and use the service and it will look and feel as close as we can make it, allowing for obvious differences in the device."
Instant messages via cellphone will cost the same as SMS messages. Users will have to have a Microsoft Passport account to use the service.