Smaller ISPs are being left to get on with preparing for Telecom's 0867 numbering scheme — something which seems to be easier said than done.
"We really are having a hard time of it," says Wayne Attwell, manager of Hamilton-based ISP Wave.
Attwell says he has been trying without success to test his equipment on the 0867 connection and that Telecom has been less than forthcoming with support, something he feels does not bode well.
Telecom agreed that Wave would need to test its gear in August but since then Attwell says he's been given the run-around.
"They said we would have two months testing and problem-solving with the lines but that never happened. Then they said they would provide a test lab and that has also never happened."
Attwell needs to test his equipment before Telecom's November 1 start date, but he says that is looking unlikely.
"We're a bit pissed off, to put it bluntly."
A Telecom spokesman says Wave's customers don't have to worry. "If we, for any reason, are unable to provision the necessary data circuits by November 1 we will ensure neither the Wave nor its customers are disadvantaged in any way."
Attwell raises another concern over 0867 — Telecom is itself an ISP and will soon know all there is to know about Wave's customer base, its usage patterns and so on.
"In the end, we're competing with Xtra and they've got all of our information, who our resellers are, who are customers are … If they did that and allowed free trade then fine, but they've got all the information and they're restricting what we can and can't do, he says."
Attwell is also upset at Telecom's level of service during this switch-over.
"Are our customers going to put up with the hassles or will they switch to an ISP they perceive to be hassle-free — namely Xtra?" he says.
Mark Mackay, Internet coordinator with ISP Digital Edge and one of the co-authors of the "Stop the Tax" site (www.talk.co.nz/0867), is also concerned about Xtra's "home side" advantage.
"We have to re-educate our customer base and will no doubt lose customers because of the continual changing." Mackay says he is trapped between Clear's good intentions in refusing to switch to 0867 and the need to reimburse customers smoothly for its 2-cents-a-minute charge.
"It's easy enough for Clear, they can take it off at their end for customers, but we'll have to get copies of their phone accounts, work out which charge is the 0867 charge and go on from there." Mackay is also unimpressed with Telecom's offer to help ISPs pay for the change-over.
"Their cut-off date is about October 15 and I guarantee that the true cost of the move across will become apparent from then onward." Mackay says costs will go up in the rollover period.
"You can't just say in one day 'everyone dial this number' because you'll always have people dialling the old number. We'll need to provide double redundancy, double modems, double the lines."