Ihug's new Ultra high-speed satellite offering is raising eyebrows in the ISP market, but director Tim Wood says it should be good for other ISPs.
Under the new system, customers don't have to switch to Ihug to use Ultra - they can stay with their existing ISP and use Ultra when they chose to.
"It's targeted at the user who may not need a permanent broadband connection, " says Wood. "They get a little icon in their system tray and they surf on their dial-up as normal, but when they see something they want to download in a hurry or a movie they want to watch or whatever they can click on the icon and it switches them over to Ultra," says Wood.
The Ultra monthly plans have been replaced with either a flat-rate broadband access plan or a pre-pay scratch-card buy as you go system, similar to pre-pay mobile phones.
"Users buy a card, enter the number on the website and they're away. They have 60 days to reach the data limit," says Ultra brand manager Karli Fountain.
Wood says the system is beneficial to the other ISPs because they get paid for a service which they sell for a set fee every month.
"If Ihug is providing the bulk of the inbound data and the ISP is still charging the customer for the service, they make on the arrangement," says Wood.
"We get to grow our business without taking the customers off other ISPs. This is really step one in the move to wholesaling Ultra in New Zealand - it's already very popular in Australia with over 100 ISPs offering Ultra."
Prices vary depending on whether customers are within Ihug's "metro" areas or are further afield but they start at $10 per 100 megabytes using the prepay system. More regular users can sign up for the monthly contract - 500MB from $24.95 a month.
Users will still be required to pay for installation.
Wood says it uses point-to-point tunnelling [PPTP] and opens a client up from the user to Ihug. "When they're done it shuts down again."
Some ISP technical staff have commented in newsgroups that they would be able to stop the connection if they chose to but Wood says that's not possible.
"They can't chop it off - it's tunnelling from their customers to us."
Wood says the company is receiving good feedback on the new plan, especially from rural users.
"The uptake is great even though it's only been a couple of days."