FryUp: JetLeeches, the Rest of Us, Video on Demand

Top Stories: - Jet Boy Jet Girl Jet Leech - What about the rest of us? - Video on demand

Top Stories:

- Jet Boy Jet Girl Jet Leech

- What about the rest of us?

- Video on demand

- Jet Boy Jet Girl Jet Leech

So there they were, the happy boys and girls who signed up with ISP Actrix for its JetStream Starter service, gaily playing with their "broadband" internet connection (128 Kbit/s - feel the speed) when all of a sudden they get an email from Actrix about the price.

JetStream Starter is the formerly unlimited bandwidth service that the ISPs resell for Telecom. The problem is that when you say "unlimited bandwidth", the customers can sometimes take that to mean "unlimited bandwidth" and so they go nuts, using the service. That's right, the scoundrels.

Most of the ISPs have introduced a bandwidth limit of one kind or another - generally either 5GB or 10GB a month.

Actrix has decided that's draconian and it's not going to have a bar of it. Good on it. Instead, Actrix has raised the price of the service from $34.95 a month to $149.95 a month.

Blimey.

That's right - a 329% price rise (thanks to the team for helping me work that out) - that now makes the service more costly than its full-speed JetStream counterpart.

As the members of the DSL mailing list pointed out: surely this is an exit strategy on the part of Actrix. We'd like to sell JetStream Starter but nobody will buy it from us. Shucks.

Actrix's general manager, George Reedy, tells me that the price hike is to attract those high-end leech customers that all the other ISPs blame for their price and bandwidth caps.

That's right, the ISP wants those of you who think nothing of racking up a 15GB traffic report for the month.

What I can't understand is how it's going to make any money out of this policy. JetStream Starter is priced so that the ISP pays the cost of the excess usage by the end user. Even at $149.95 a month the bandwidth these guys go through will cost the ISP more than it makes from them, I would have thought.

I have no problem with end users making use of a service. It's foolish to expect people to read "unlimited" as meaning "only so long as you don't go past about, shall we say, 4GB in a month" and so price caps and data caps are to be expected. But this move doesn't make sense to me.

I spoke to some Actrix customers who don't use such high levels. A couple of them use only 2 or 3GB a month and they're now moving on to a capped service elsewhere.

I don't know what you guys do to use so much bandwidth either. I work from home, am online about 12 hours a day most days, send a lot of traffic back and forth to the office and usually just break the 1GB mark each month. I guess if I were downloading lots of music or movie files I'd soon hit the three or four mark but 15 to 20 is mind boggling. Memo to self: must try it out this month.

So, if you're a leech paying truckloads to another ISP for full-speed JetStream and you don't mind cutting back to 128Kbit/s, give Actrix a call. I guess you're already happy spending that kind of money each month so what the heck - jump on in.

Actrix increases JetStream Starter price by over 300% - IDGNet

Buy an anti-Actrix t-shirt at the GeekWare website

- What about the rest of us?

I had an interesting chat with the new chief executive of Ihug, Martin Wylie, the other day. I'd been chasing him for an interview since he started two months ago and finally we managed to sit down together.

Ihug is in for a shake-up and if you ask me it's ripe for one. For too long it's been coasting on its rep as the innovative market leader when in fact it's not been anything like that for ages.

It's true that Ihug did revolutionise the New Zealand market when it launched flat rate dial-up back in the early 90s but since then its only claim to fame has been Ultra, its wireless high-speed download system.

Ihug's launched a number of oddball initiatives in the last few years - the Text to Voice (T2V) service being the latest - but Wylie says it'll be the last of the "technology for technology's sake" products from Ihug. From here on in it's a more business-like approach to the company and that won't be a bad thing.

Wylie talked at some length about the problems of broadband roll-out and quite rightly said we mustn't forget about the middle New Zealand market. It's all well and good if you live in the CBD and soon rural communities will have access as well, touch wood, but what about the towns, the suburbs, the in-betweens? Don't they need broadband? Of course they do - there's a huge market out there for residential broadband that nobody apart from Telecom seems at all interested in.

Walker Wireless is about to launch its wireless broadband package and Ihug has Ultra, but where is TelstraClear? Surely the market isn't that unprofitable?

Wylie questions whether broadband will take off while the price is so high compared with dial-up. In Australia they don't get free local calls so the price of broadband isn't that much greater than having a couple of phone lines and paying for every call.

In New Zealand, which Wylie describes as being the most price-sensitive market in the world, there's just no incentive to jump to broadband, despite our best efforts. I just hope something happens soon to push the market along.

Don't forget middle NZ says Ihug boss - IDGNet

End of an era at Ihug - IDGNet

- Video on demand

And to round out a very broadband FryUp, Telecom is set to announce the trial of a video on demand service.

Presumably it's a service that will be delivered to your PC but I'd like to see it go a step further and pump DSL to the TV via a set-top box. That's a service that would really fly and, better still, would encourage the likes of Microsoft and Sony to deliver online gaming to their consoles.

Mmmmmmmm.

Still, video on demand to the TV would be nice. I hate traipsing to the video store - something about tape in a digital world just bothers me. I want to sit on my wide fat couch and just push a button when I'm ready to go. Yeah, that strikes me as a more 21st century solution.

Telecom will announce more on Monday so next week's FryUp might have some more detail. Till then I badgered a consultant to tell me more about the system, technology possibilities and market issues. See the story for more.

Telecom to trial video on demand - IDGNet

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