Telecom often takes a beating from its end users for the way it structures its DSL pricing regime, but the company has been listening and is considering a radical new way of charging for high speed internet access.
Currently Telecom has two offerings - JetStart, which is capped to 128Kbit/s but with unlimited downloading allowed (JetStart is aimed at home users and is not available to businesses), and JetStream, which has no speed cap but has a variety of download limits, starting at 400MB a month with additional megabytes costing 18 cents each.
The uncertainty surrounding the monthly bill is causing JetStream customers some concern, but Telecom hopes to address that.
"We're looking at it from the point of view of the services offered rather than the technology base or the speed or download amount or whatever," says acting general manager of network investment, Gavin Knight.
Knight says the current model doesn't encourage users to take advantage of the kinds of speeds DSL allows for, and he would like to see a system based around the one currently used for gamers.
"Because we know what they're going to the server for and can control the whole environment, we can offer much greater levels of service than we normally can."
Telecom provides a number of servers dedicated to online games. Players log on via their DSL modems not under their own account, but under a general user account. That way they aren't charged by the megabyte as games would rapidly eat through their monthly allowance.
"Take movies - at the moment if you go to a server in say San Francisco and download a movie the cost to us versus the cost of taking it off a server at your local exchange is roughly 1000 to one." Knight says Telecom would establish a commercial arrangement with the movie provider, cache the films on a local server and be able to offer them in a controlled environment to the end users.
"We're looking at caching technology for this kind of thing right now." Billing could be restructured to take into account the activity, such as gaming, watching movies or whatever, rather than the type of connection used.
Business applications would also benefit - and Knight hopes this kind of capability would help kick-start the ASP (application service provider) market.
"The problems arise when users reach beyond our network for mission critical activities that we simply can't guarantee."
In the meantime, Telecom says it has already begun offering an advanced data connection suite, IP.networking, that allows users to set up virtual private networks (VPN) and the like without running into the micro-outage problems recently reported in Computerworld.