Clear phone customers can't connect to the free ISP i4free via its 0867 number - but they can dial direct, even though it means i4free misses out on its arbitrage revenue from Clear.
A central Auckland Clear business customer told IDGNet that even though Clear's network prevents him dialling i4free's 0867 number, staff on i4free's 0900 helpline (which costs $2.25 per minute to use) were unable to provide him with a local Clear number via which he could connect.
The system devised by i4free and Clear, which sees i4free's 0867 number diverted to a Telecom number associated with Clear's network via number portability has been upheld in court until a substantive hearing later in the year.
For so long as the system lasts, Clear collects a two cents per minute interconnection charge from Telecom, about half of which is shared with i4free and its parent company CallPlus. This arbitrage revenue currently makes up most, if not all of i4free's income.
Is i4free refusing to accept connections from within the Clear network, because they do not earn it money? Not at all, says i4free CEO Annette Presley. She says ISPs must have conventional numbers for 0867 numbers to be associated with.
Clear's public affairs manager Ross Inglis says Clear customers cannot call 0867 numbers "because we haven't been offered an 0867 agreement on fair and reasonable terms."
All Clear's local service customers are business users who, says Inglis "typically want a more sophisticated level of service" than a free ISP can provide, so the situation is unlikely to occur very often.
For the record, i4free's Clear local numbers are: Auckland, 09-912-9699; Waikato, 07-957-0128; Wellington, 04-917-1932; Christchurch, 03-961-0401.
Telecom customers should be able to call these numbers, but should bear in mind that Telecom will charge them two cents per minute after the first 10 hours of use every month.