Ihug takes to the skies from today

Internet Group (Ihug) customers will be getting a big chunk of their Internet via the skies from this morning, now that the ISP has gone live with a 1.5Mbit/s satellite link. Ihug has shifted 480 of its 1800 dial-in lines nationwide to a feed from the private satellite provider PanAmSat, which has been specialising in IP traffic.

Internet Group (Ihug) customers will be getting a big chunk of their Internet via the skies from this morning, now that the ISP has gone live with a 1.5Mbit/s satellite link.

Ihug has shifted 480 of its 1800 dial-in lines nationwide to a feed from the private satellite provider PanAmSat, which has been specialising in IP traffic.

"We've been testing the satellite link and it flies - so the suggestion that it will be slow is rubbish," says Ihug director Tim Wood. "So basically all those lines have come out of the NZIX gateway, which should speed things up a bit for people on our southern nodes."

Ihug customers have complained that Ihug's peak-hour dial-in availability has slumped lately, but Wood says new lines have been waiting on the increased bandwidth offered by the satellite. Sixty lines were added to the Auckland node this week and more are to follow.

Single-number hunting (one dial-in number for hundreds of lines) which is possible under Telecom's new ISP-only PR2 service, will take a little longer to introduce.

"We've got one R2 box in Auckland and we're just finalising what we're doing. It's a bit annoying, because we've got a CD-Rom waiting to come out, but we don't really want to release it until we've got all those dial-in numbers nailed.

"All the new lines ordered are R2, so they'll be the base numbers in each centre. The big question at this stage is whether we hang onto the primary rate ISDN lines we've got, or hand them back and swap them for R2. We need to see how well it works before we jump in and commit."

"Obviously Windows 95 is the main problem with multi-number dialling - although one of our customers wrote Freedom which is a Win 95 multi-dialler. It dials multiple and random numbers."

Meanwhile, Wood confirms that big numbers are looking like the next big thing in the ISP trade. In the week of Xtra's newly-announced traffic audit, which found that 17,000 users a day came though the Xtra site, he says Ihug has been offered an audit too.

"I'm not sure what the traffic is now. A while ago, we were getting about 12,000 HTML requests a day off the home page. But that was October of last year. I do know we did a million log-ins last month. A million people logged into the system in February!"

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