Xtra: Five years since the fire alarm

Five years ago today, Telecom launched a new ISP called Xtra. Microsoft wasn't there but Silicon Graphics and Netscape were.

Five years ago today, Telecom launched a new ISP called Xtra. Microsoft wasn't there but Silicon Graphics and Netscape were.

SGI's Ed McCracken was there in the flesh to help his customer celebrate and Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale was present in video form. Former Telecom CEO Rod Deane and Xtra general manager Chris Tyler and IT minister Maurice Williamson rounded out the list of speakers who have since changed jobs.

The highlight of the evening at Auckland's Kermadec restaurant was arguably a fire alarm, which meant all the guests had to file outside before Deane got to speak. The mercy was brief, however, and the ceremony was soon completed.

The ISP wasn't the first attempt by Telecom at providing Internet service. The education-oriented NZ Online was marginalised by a new batch of commercial ISPs, including Iconz, Voyager and Ihug. Xtra also endured some controversy - including the departure of the controversial Tyler and several restructurings. But it now has more than a quarter of a million subscribers and is growing at around 14,000 subscribers a month.

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