Clear backtracks on Voyager problems

Clear Communications has backtracked on last week's statement that controversial Internet provider Voyager had failed to meet its financial commitments during their abruptly-ended business relationship.

A joint media release on a Voyager fax header says Clear and Voyager have "amicably resolved the issues" which led to the termination of their contract.

"However," the statement reads, "Clear wishes to correct any misunderstanding which may have arisen from its media comments last week." Clear adds that "there was certainly no suggestion that Voyager could not meet its financial commitments".

The new spin is quite at odds with a statement from Clear's communications manager, Janiene Bayliss, which says Clear had suggested the split because Voyager has had difficulty meeting its commitments, and with a subsequent verbal confirmation from Bayliss that the commitments were financial ones.

Meanwhile, Voyager has announced plans to install 19 extra access nodes. Managing director John OHara says the fact that Voyager plans to put in place far more local nodes (it currently has only six) under its new contract with Telecom does not mean a change of business model or that the previous reliance on 0800 was not sustainable a view even Clear was rumoured to have taken. When we set up the original six nodes it was always our intention to see where the patterns of demand were and set up POPs where there was demand.

OHara says reports that Voyager will drop its prices if (as seems inevitable) Telecom Online Service - due to be launched on May 15 - pitches its charges lower are incorrect. "It may have been reported that way, but that's not what I said. We'll wait and see what TOLs does, when and if it launches. Our success in the market has been largely due to our customer service making it easy for people to get online and keeping them happy once they're there."

Nonetheless, Voyager cut off its 0800 support line six weeks ago, meaning that non-Auckland customers have had to make tolls calls for technical support, citing too many calls unrelated to the Internet.

Under Voyager's contract with Telecom, the telco will supply regional telehousing, 0800 access, voice services and Voyager's domestic data backbone. Telstra will supply an external Internet gateway.

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