A pre-pay homeline phone service offering no contracts and free broadband is being launched across New Zealand today.
Branded Flip, the network is part of the Callplus group that also owns Callplus Business and Slingshot.
It was formed last December involving Callplus CEO Mark Callander, Callplus co-founder Malcolm Dick and Callplus and Slingshot marketing manager Scott Hoogerbrug.
Mr Hoogerbrug told NBR ONLINE the trio analysed the New Zealand market and found demand for providers offering free broadband, especially to low data users.
“Slingshot is positioning itself as more high-end data usage. We are targeting people looking to save money and not get tied into contracts and use less data," he say.
"We found that 50% of New Zealand use less that 5GB a month so it’s definitely a mass market proposition.”
Most New Zealanders pay too much for their landlines and broadband, saying at $50 a month he can beat the $70 to $75 a month offered by the competition.
Flip does not have a contract but charges a $49.95 installation fee, plus $49.95 a month for the homeline, which includes 5GB a month of broadband.
Local calls are free, and national, New Zealand mobiles and overseas landline calls to more than 90 countries are 20c a minute.
Mr Hoogerbrug says people can buy more broadband but, unlike other suppliers, the broadband can be used up to a year and doesa not expire when a fresh month rolls over.
Datablocks can be bought for $5 for 2GB, $10 for 10GB and $20 for 15GB.
“You don’t have to worry about buying data and losing it,” he said.
A pre-pay service also means customers control their accounts better and won’t suffer “bill shock” if they use their phone too much.
Flip also sees a market in students unwilling to tie themselves to long contracts – especially when they tend to move at the end of the student year – transient city dwellers and new arrivals to New Zealand who aren’t sure where they will end up living.
In addition to no contracts, Mr Hoogerbrug says another point of difference for his company is having a huge investment in online.
Finishing touches were being made to the Flip website (www.flip.co.nz <http://www.flip.co.nz>) over the weekend in time for it going live at 8am today. Just 10 staff are employed at the Flip call centre in Auckland’s Vulcan Lane, though it can draw on support from "partners" when needed.
“Customers can manage their account online without calling us. We have integrated our support systems to handle social media , with customers using the channel they are most familiar with.
"Because we are new, we can make changes quickly and we have a big focus on feedback from customer forums,” he says.
Flip will be available to 60% of New Zealand, essentially the main centres, says Mr Hoogerbrug, but the service will gradually be extended further. Would-be customers can register with the company, with the rollout matching consumer demand.
“We have had a few people trialling the service. But we have a brand new network waiting to be filled up. We have our own equipment and exchanges thoughout New Zealand.
“For actual copper lines, we use Chorus like everyone else. Internet and calling is controlled by us.”
Mr Hoogerbrug says to join the service, customers will need their own phones and modems. They then need to go online or use the call centre, make the first payment and the service should be working within a week.