Splurge Internet has stopped offering a free ISP service - and declared itself "proud" to have been the last free ISP to take new customers.
Clear's Zfree service remains in operation but ceased accepting new accounts last year and has given no indication of when it might start again. The economics of the free ISP business were sharply altered when an agreement between Clear and Telecom removed the interconnection fees for calls between networks that had been the chief source of revenue for free services.
Splurge is linked to Splash Net, which began service last July, but changed its name soon afterwards as the result of a trademark dispute. On Saturday, it began asking its 5000 Auckland customers a flat $9.95 a month (GST inclusive) for credit card and $11.95 for payment by cheque or direct debit. Subscriptions must be paid quarterly in advance and existing customers are being asked to re-register by Friday May 4 in order for their membership to continue.
"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," says Splurge spokesman, Mark Frater.