A merger with one of its major customers has shot the Internet Group (Ihug) past the 10,000 Internet subscriber mark.
South Island-based Efficient Software, also known as ES Net, has joined Ihug. Although the company will continue to be known as the Internet Group, its new logo includes the ES name
Ihug director Tim Wood says the two companies have "many common views, both in ongoing pricing and customer relations and support". They will also move to a common pricing structure, with Ihug offering a special initial deal of a year's access for $399, in addition to its usual $40 a month "Diamond" rate. South Islanders currently with other companies will also be eligible for free sign-ons.
Wood says the merger "will cement us firmly as the largest resource user for Internet provision in the country. All major cities will have 500Mbit frame relay access with all smaller POPs getting upgrades as well. The offshore capacity will exceed 4.5Mb with access through multiple gateways. We will have 12 points of presence around the country with staffed offices in three centres.
"We can handle 1300 simultaneous dial-up users and we will be offering a new routing structure to multi-home our gateways, meaning means faster and more direct access to bandwidth for our growing customer needs."
Although Xtra and Voyager both claim more than 10,000 customers, Wood draws a distinction between "paying" and "phantom" customers. Almost all Ihug customers pay a flat $40, but Xtra and Voyager customers do not pay any standing fee.
Wood says the company plans to draw in the rest of the North Island with most major centres being targeted in early 1997 to coincide with Ihug's Sydney-based foray into the Australian market in January. Internet Group customers will be able to use their accounts in both New Zealand and Australia.