Saturn Communications will consider going into the Internet business itself if it cannot reach a deal with existing ISPs over service to Saturn telephone customers in the Wellington region.
Saturn’s problem is the three cents a minute it pays to Telecom under the two companies’ interconnection agreement if its customers dial in to an ISP using a Telecom number. Saturn stands that cost for voice calls, but CEO Jack Matthews says that won’t always be the case for Internet access.
“Because it’s an Internet connection they can be on the phone a long time,” says Matthews. “So if we can’t come to some kind of accomodation with the ISPs, we’re going to start charging three cents a minute for calls to them. They’re going to be toll calls — $1.80 an hour on top of any other charges.”
Matthews says Saturn has made its views known to leading ISPs and he hopes to reach an agreement so Internet service can be launched later in the year.
“If we can’t come to an agreement with ISPs, we are going to have to become an ISP ourselves, so that we have an alternative for our customers. We’ll say here’s a service that won’t cost $1.80 an hour. So it’s very much in the ISPs’ interests to work that one out as well — including Xtra.