Telecom says problems with its billing system are preventing other companies following Clear in wholesaling DSL services - but Ihug has already won one significant concession.
When Telecom and Clear announced last October that Clear would be allowed to wholesale its JetStream DSL service as part of a set of agreements between the two companies, the move was described as a trial that would lead to whole access being offered to other companies.
But with Clear set to launch its DSL service - which will include a flat-rate product of some kind - either next week or the week after, a similar deal for other competitors is still a new months away.
"One of the issues that's arisen out of the trial is the billing system that's currently being used for JetStream billing is configured in to support only one wholesale customer," says Telecom spokesman Glen Sowry.
"There's significant work currently underway to remedy that so that in the future it will be more widely available."
Ihug director Nick Wood, who had been asking for wholesale access to JetStream for nearly a year before Clear got the nod, says he has not yet had a firm date from Telecom. He has not been told the problem lies with the billing system, "but it's not unlikely knowing the cumbersome nature of their billing system."
But Ihug is about to offer a range of products based around Telecom's 128Kbit/s JetStart service - unbundled so that Ihug can use its own international capacity, rather than having to buy JetStream all the way to California, as has effectively been the case until now.
Under the new plan, customers will be billed $30 directly by Telecom and the rest of the charge by Ihug.
"Any product that's worth selling, we'll sell," says Wood. "But we're not too keen on being a reseller of Telecom products as our only source of income. This is sort of like half-wholesaling. But what everyone wants is to actually bill the customer for the whole service and make a margin on the $30 as well as your own services.
"Clear can call their service what they want and I don't think the same conditions apply to Clear - for instance, at the moment the customer has to maintain their normal residential phone line, whereas what we want to do is provide one line which does both their voice and data. We'd build a combination of Ultra and ADSL, because it would be the cheapest, fastest service you could find."
Clear spokesperson Rochelle Lockley says its DSL offering is set to go, pending final decisions on products and pricing.
"It's all working technically. Everything has been tested and we've had some beta customers on. What we're working out at the moment is the pricing, how it will compare to our competitors, how we'll deliver it, how we'll bill it, all those things.
"Flat rate pricing is definitely a frontrunner in the group of things we're looking at. There's definitely demand for it from out customers. But I can't tell you what that price is going to be."