Ihug bumps up flat-rate

In a break with market trend, Ihug has put up the price of its flat-rate dial-up account. Director Nick Wood says the company wants to compete on service, not 'bargain-bin' pricing.

In a break with market trend, Ihug has put up the price of its flat-rate dial-up account. Director Nick Wood says the company decided "to go against the trend and not be a bargain-bin ISP, and focus more on why people subscribe to a service.

"In Australia, we put our price up against the trend of going down and we recently got ourselves a rating of four out of five on service, one of only three ISPs that did. We're actually doing much better than a lot of the ISPs there."

The new rates accompany restrictions on the company's high-speed Ultra accounts, on which customers who generate more than 2Gb of traffic per month will be charged six cents per megabyte for international traffic over that limit.

"There were a couple of hundred people screwing it for everybody," says Wood. "The network management policy we brought in didn't work, so we decided on a limit that was above what most people were using."

The new charging structure charges customers of the terrestrial version of Ultra only for international traffic in excess of their monthly limit. National traffic is free. Although Paradise differentiates between international and national traffic on the high-speed services it offers via Telstra Saturn's cable network and Citylink, Telecom and Ihug have hitherto regarded such differentiation as too confusing for customers.

But Wood says there will be a variety of pricing schemes on Ultra, as well as efforts to allow customers to make those really big downloads without blowing their caps.

"We're trying to come up with a component for our multicast client so you can schedule downloads which other people are going to do as well, popular stuff, which won't cost anything," he says.

"We'll look and see where we can change things, basically. We thought we'd start with something that was logical and covered the bases and work our way from there and increase the allowances as much as we can without affecting the service levels. We want people to have as much fun as they can. I hated putting on the limit, but we just couldn't get around it."

The new dial-up rates, effective April 1, reverse a price cut made in August last year to match the $24.95 benchmark for flat-rate set by Xtra. Ihug's monthly rate for its flat-rate Diamond account is now $29.95. The Bronze account is $15 per month for 20 hours and $2 per extra hour (previously $10 for 15 hours and $1.50 per extra hour) and the Gold Account is $24.94 per month for 250 hours and $2 per extra hour (previously $19.95 for 30 hours and $1.50 per extra hour).

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