Ihug satellite fans face long queue

The Internet Group (Ihug) will launch the direct-from-satellite version of its high-speed StarNet service within two weeks. But anybody interested will have to join a waiting list of 700 customers.

The Internet Group (Ihug) will launch the direct-from-satellite version of its high-speed StarNet service within two weeks. But anybody interested will have to join a waiting list of 700 customers.

The StarNet feed will come from the same PanAmSat satellite that provides most of Ihug’s inbound IP bandwidth. The satellite’s footprint covers both Australia and New Zealand, so customers in both countries will have access to the service.

Ihug director Nick Wood says the direct service will cost $69 a month, the same as Auckland StarNet customers currently pay for the relay from the Sky Tower, but installation and hardware, including a 90cm dish, will cost about $150 more, at $650.

Delays in launching the direct service have seen a waiting list of about 700 customers build up, and Wood says those installations will have to be completed before the company can move forward on its other plans, most of which centre around StarNet. The company is also testing the first MacOS drivers for the PCI expansion cards on which StarNet is based.

VIPNet, the Ihug business service announced a couple of months ago, will not be ready until early December. It will be based around bundles using StarNet for downstream bandwidth, and a choice of dial-up, ISDN or stacked wideband upstream.

Wood says the company plans to offer Internet presence “as an integrated product”, including telehousing. “There’ll be an NT server provided, with software, and it’ll be maintained with a certain number of on-call hours per month. You’ll buy an end-to-end solution which we provide and manage, so you won’t have to have an IS guy to worry about it.”

He says pricing has yet to be worked out “but it’ll be significantly cheaper than a similar solution from Telecom”.

The company also hopes to soon begin broadcasting “first-release” movies free to StarNet subscribers.

“We have a video server that runs at 25 frames per second with stereo sound,” says Wood. “We’re hopeful of getting them relatively cheaply and getting through the copyright issues. It means we can get all the stuff that’s in the video stores now. We’d be broadcasting from 6pm till 1am, seven days a week.”

Ihug’s existing customer base will also be the target for a new range of voice telephony services, which are again due in December.

“It’ll be voice-over-IP for national calling and conventional voice for international, like World Exchange,” says Wood. “You pick up the phone and dial the number and it appears on your Ihug bill rather than your Telecom bill.

“The next phase will be to provide you with a phone line in your house as well — high-speed Internet, a phone line and movies and television,” he says.

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