Clear aims to stand out for customer service

Clear says customers service will be the distinguishing feature of its newly launched Internet service.

Clear is focusing on the basics with its Internet service Clear Net, unveiled yesterday (

What will differentiate Clear Net will be customer service, says Internet project manager Andy Lake. So far this year Clear has spent $8 million setting up the service.

It’s primarily aimed at newbies and features 24-hour, seven-day helpdesk support.

Lake would not reveal how many people will staff the ISP helpdesk. But he says Clear’s customer service centre will be able to handle inquiries such as registration and billing, leaving the ISP support centre free to deal with technical queries.

There is also online help by email, whereby customers can raise their own trouble tickets and check their progress. Clear Net is building upon MCI’s Internet knowledgebase and eventually will make this database available to customers.

To ensure redundancy, Clear has established two MCI links to the US on the PacRim East and Tasman 2 cables, in addition to the Waikato gateway. These gateways are also available to other wholesale ISP customers.

Other Clear Net features are a customisable home page, local access from 15 centres, detailed billing, support for multiple user profiles on one account in Windows 95 and a high-speed ATM backbone. Cear Net has standardised on the Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 browser and currently supports Windows 3.11 and Windows 95, with Macintosh support due in a couple of weeks.

On the content side, Clear Net is offering a news service and 1000 links to other sites. Apart from the World Wide Web, it will have email, newsgroups, domain name registration, Web hosting and file transfer protocol.

The service will make use of Clear’s high-speed digital fibre optic network allowing customers in 15 centres to access the service through a local number. Subscribers will pay a one-off fee of $34.95 (including five free user IDs). Connection rates are dependent on the time of day:

q 7am - 4pm $2.95 for metro users; $5.95 for 0800 customers

q 4pm - 2am $2.50 for metro; $5.95 for 0800

q 12pm - 7am $2.25 for metro; $5.95 for 0800.

The technology platform comprises 15 Ascend MAX 400 network access servers, Cisco 4000 routers, StrataCom BPX/Axis ATM switches, Bay Networks Centillion 100 LAN switches and Sun Ultra Enterprise servers.

CLEAR Net’s pages and the Web site were designed by Auckland-based WebMasters while Terabyte Interactive developed the Clear corporate Web site which was launched on the same day. SolNet and ITS are the main systems integrators.

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