The last of the free ISPs has bowed to pressure and begun charging for its service.
“Splurge is proud to have been the last free internet service provider (ISP) taking new customers. We have held out as long as possible but, unfortunately, we must also bow to commercial pressures and change Splurge to a subscription based-service", says spokesman Mark Frater.
The new offering is an unlimited flat rate service costing $9.95 if paid by credit card and $11.95 if paid by cheque or direct debit. Splurge claims 5000 “active members” in Auckland and is asking existing members to re-sign on its website, www.splurge.co.nz.
Splurge originally launched in July last year under the name Splash.net but had to rebrand almost immediately after being advised the name was already registered to a different company.
The free ISP phenomenon started in earnest when Clear Communications began offering ISPs a share of its interconnect charges garnered through an agreement with Telecom. Once Clear and Telecom re-negotiated that deal the revenue stream dried up.
Most of the free ISPs claimed to have a business model that extended beyond that source, yet none has been able to sustain a free service in the long term. Clear’s own free ISP, Zfree, still operates but is not taking any new subscribers.