ISPs hail Telecom's tardy service revamp

Internet service providers are pleased with the new emphasis on their requirements in Telecom's reshaped computer communications service--but most point out they have been asking for price and service changes for some time.

Internet service providers are pleased with the new emphasis on their requirements in Telecom's reshaped computer communications service--but most point out they have been asking for price and service changes for some time.

Marketing manager Graeme Rowe says the growth in Internet use was one of the main drivers for Telecom's computer communications services.

"We see ISPs as important customers and we think what we have done will make it easier for them to reach their customers.

The new DDS Stacked Access service offered under the Telecom Connectivity brand will be of particular use to larger ISPs handling a number of DDS (Digital Data Services) circuits.

Stacked Access allows up to 30 separate digital circuits, originating from different places, to be delivered to an ISP over a single 2Mbit/s link from the nearest Telecom exchange. Because the circuits are bundled into a single interface, they are cheaper and easier for the ISP to handle. Most of the larger ISPs have been asking for this service but have had to wait until Telecom's new CMOS network management system was in place. It will be welcome, but the cost--effectively what ISPs were paying before the new cuts in other DDS services--will be less so.

Significant reductions in various price components of DDS delivery, including the scrapping of transmission charges within CBDs, have also been welcomed.

"I think this will be good for everybody," says Internet Prolink manager Craig Anderson, "but Telecom's pricing has been expensive. This still doesn't really make them competitive on a worldwide basis."

Nick Wood of the Internet Group (Ihug) says the price cuts are likely to draw more business into the leased line market "and I'd say the customers who were looking at 48kbit/s lines will now go for 64kbit/s. Some people would say this is about bloody time but it's good to see it anyway."

Wood says local bandwidth makes up a big chunk of his costs: "I've been allocating $20 per customer for international bandwidth--and $10 per head to deliver the same service between Wellington and Auckland."

Ihug's more pressing technical problem--Telecom's inability to associate more than 300 dial-up lines with the same number--may be near a fix. The fault lies less with Telecom than with the ISDN exchange software it inherited, which cannot handle "series completion" (handing over calls from one set of 30 channels to the next) under the heavy load conditions of an ISP. NEC, the original author of the software, should finally have a fix within a few weeks.

"Of course, Telecom has indicated to me that when it has the fix it'll treat it as a new service and charge more for it," says Wood.

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