OECD ranks NZ Internet rates third-cheapest

New Zealand is among the cheapest countries in the world for Internet access, according a major OECD report--but the findings must be qualified.

Using ICONZ's charges as of August 1995 (ironically, just before new owners hiked the company's rates), the authors of Information Infrstructure Convergence and Pricing: The Internet ranked New Zealand third cheapest, behind Australia and the UK. But the ranking applied only to customers who generated less than 5Mb of traffic per month--at Iconz's higher monthly rate, with a 20Mb entitlement, New Zealand slipped to ninth.

When telephone company charges were factored in, the 5Mb user in New Zealand ranked behind four US states and Canada, all of which offered free residential calls at a lower standing charge than New Zealand Telecom. The 20Mb user ranked only two places lower, behind Iceland and just behind Sweden.

ICONZ's volume-charging regime, which was until recently the standard in New Zealand, was plainly somewhat difficult to tally with the report's research methods, which assessed cost on the basis of hourly usage.

ICONZ notwithstanding, average charges here have probably fallen since the survey was conducted--although, ironically, The Internet Group's controversial monthly flat rate of $39 for unlimited use would actually rate as slightly more expensive than ICONZ's monthly charge for a 5Mb user. The report actually includes later (and considerably cheaper) ISP figures from Australia and Japan "to demonstrate the dynamic nature of change".

One factor which stands out most clearly is that it is the countries with infrastructure competition in telecommunications which tend to have cheaper Internet access--seven of the eight cheapest countries did so.

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