Orcon launches Crown fibre plans from $75/month; rivals miffed
UPDATE: Orcon told NBR that customers on its fibre plan will be charged $2 per GB once they go over their monthly cap. The company expects to introduce text and email warnings.
The public-private, $1.35 billion Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) roll-out reached the sharp end, with the first major retail plans announced.
Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett said this morning his company would offer fibre plans from today.
Mr Bartlett said an entry-level home fibre plan would cost $75 - the same as a the company's mainstream coppery/DSL plan today - for a 30Mbit/s down, 10Mbit/s up connection with a 30GB cap.
The pricing will look even more attractive once averaging of urban and rural copper prices kicks in over coming months under the Telecommunictions Ammendment Act that enabled the UFB - pushing up copper/DSL prices by around 20%.
30Mbit/s is more than three times the speed most get from a copper/DSL connection, though well shy of the 100Mbit/s, in both directions, that a fibre connection can achieve.
Fibre for business will start at $169 plus GST ($199 incl GST) for a 30Mbit/s up/10Mbit/s down service, a 30GB data cap and two voice lines.
For home plans, there will be an $89 a month for 60GB option, $99 for 100GB and $199 for a one terabyte 1000GB).
People will have to pay extra for full fibre speed. A 100Mbit/s download plan will cost $110 with a 30GB cap.
Those living in areas including Christchurch, Whangarei, Tauranga, Rotorua, and the Auckland suburbs of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Mt Albert, as well as parts of Remuera, the North Shore and the East Tamaki Business Park who are getting fibre in the next four to six weeks can order fibre plans now through Orcon's website (which features an address finder - playing up when NBR visited).
Mr Bartlett said fibre connections would not suffer the contention (overloading) problems that stopped copper/DSL customers achieving anything like theoretical top speeds at peak times.
Connection will be free for the first wave of customers.
Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe told NBR his company - which won the lion's share of the wholesale UFB rollout - was providing residential connections free to retail ISPs such as Orcon.
It was up to the ISP if it charged any connection fee.
Mr Bartlett said the "first wave of customers" would not be charged any residential connection fee.
Chrischurch UFB wholesale winner Enable, and Ultrafast Fibre (the contract holder for areas including Hamilton, Tauranga, Whanganui and Rotorua) are also following the Crown Fibre Holdings template for free residential connections. In Enable's case, it covers not just running fibre from curb to home, but up to 10m inside your home.
Crown Fibre Holdings standard template pricing calls for business customers to pay a connection fee equivalent of two months' plan charges.
Under the UFB initiative, Crown Fibre Holdings is co-investing in Chorus, Enable and Ultrafast Fibre's wholesale network builds, with the state divesting itself from each public-private venture as the project proceeds over the next decade.
Forcing others hands
Mr Ratcliffe said now that Orcon had launched, he expected customer demand to "force the hand" of other ISPs in the "big give" (Telecom, TelstraClear, Vodafone and CallPlus/Slingshot), whom he expected to announce retail fibre pricing over the next few weeks and months.
CallPlus/Slingshot CEO Mark Callander told NBR, "We will be announcing residential and business plans next month and we will be ready to deliver services when the network is available."
A Vodafone spokeswoman offered, "We have a friendly user trial underway now, which will run for a few months. Once the trial is complete and we're confident of the customer experience, then we'll be ready to take a retail product to market."
TelstraClear spokesman Gary Bowering told NBR, "It is the content that matters and not the speed or delivery mechanism, whether copper, fibre or wireless. We are working on UFB packages that provide our customers with products and services that meet their content needs. These will be announced as soon as the fibre terms and conditions are clear and we can be sure that we are not misleading consumers."
Asked to elaborate on what he meant by "misleading," Mr Bowering replied, "We can't say whether any offer is misleading or not as terms and conditions are still not finalised. Therefore we cannot make an offer with clear terms and conditions. We are simply saying that there is not enough clarity to provide certainty in terms and conditions, and we believe customers are entitled to this clarity before they are asked to make purchasing decisions."
Telecom spokeswoman Katherine Murphy said, "The industry is currently in the trial phase with fully tested products yet to be available from LFCs. But we’re really excited about the opportunities UFB brings, and currently have trials underway and are working to develop innovative and future-ready plans for our customers, which we will announce soon."
Orcon is a fully-owned subsidiary of state-owned company Kordia.