Voyager to match Xtra's new plan today

Voyager will announce today its answer to Xtra's new NZPlan - which offers dial-in Internet access at a common rate on a common number anywhere in the country. But the Australian-owned ISP is clearly annoyed that Xtra got first use of the Telecom IPNet service behind its new plan, which sees the end of 0800 Internet access in favour of a nationwide rate of $2.50 an hour via an '0873' number. 'The announcement today by Xtra has caught us by surprise as we have been requesting IPNet access for some time and feel that our clients will similarly benefit from a national access plan,' a Voyager spokesman said last night.

Voyager will announce today its answer to Xtra's new NZPlan - which offers dial-in Internet access at a common rate on a common number anywhere in the country.

But the Australian-owned ISP is clearly annoyed that Xtra got first use of the Telecom IPNet service behind its new plan, which sees the end of 0800 Internet access in favour of a nationwide rate of $2.50 an hour via an "0873" number.

"The announcement today by Xtra has caught us by surprise as we have been requesting IPNet access for some time and feel that our clients will similarly benefit from a national access plan," a Voyager spokesman said last night.

IPNet collects telephone calls and routes them into a purpose-built platform, which uses network access servers to concentrate the calls onto an ATM pipe and into Telecom's ATM switches. It was first mooted about 18 months ago.

Voyager plans to announce its own national plan "so that our customer can obtain the best value Internet access possible yet retain the benefits of the superior Voyager network. It is very disappointing that we have not been able to have access to the product, but at the same time we are hoping to reach an agreement with Telecom."

Telecom began discussing IPNet with Voyager more than a year ago, as a possible solution to a dispute over 0800 access pricing - Voyager and others maintained that Xtra was selling 0800 access cheaper than competing ISPs could buy it from Telecom - which went all the way to the Commerce Commission.

Voyager's general manager David Mackey says he "can only hope" Xtra is being treated like any other by by Telecom's Computer Communications Group. "I'll never know. I've got to trust Telecom that I'm getting the same commercial rate based on my volume as Xtra would if they had the same volume. I've got no way of knowing that. It's the position anyone finds themselves in, with Telecom selling services to its own ISP and to others. We trust them to act fairly."

It was unclear last night exactly what shape the Voyager service will take, and whether the company would want to shift its network wholesale to IPNet as Xtra has. Meanwhile, the Internet Group (Ihug) is waiting for a response for its request to Telecom for fixed port pricing, which would allow it to offer a flat rate via IPNet. Director Tim Wood says the alternative would be to simply offer a service which matches Xtra's.

The losers, however may be small, rural ISPs. See yesterday's story: One number, one rate - Xtra's new national plan unveiled

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