I'm down with the Giganaire

Throw blocks of cheese at me if you must, but there are some very good reasons to celebrate Telecom's Giganaire

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Throw blocks of cheese at me if you must, but I'm down with The Giganaire.

Telecom's new ad makes me smile, despite myself. (While I agree with their sentiment, attack ads by other ISPs get wearying. Orcon's attempt at humour with Dotcom, especially, was strangely mordant where it was supposed to be droll. I wonder if, on one level, the Giganaire is a sly dig at the giant German.)

And, whatever you think of The Giganaire's rapping skills, it's a huge positive that our largest ISP (Telecom holds around 50% of the market) is moving to embrace all-you-can-eat internet.

Some might want to give it a little while before signing up or upgrading, to see how things shake out. After all, Telecom has had two misfires in this area before (the very public Go Large flame-out and the the lower profile, quietly-shelved Big Time).

And it's worth noting that Telecom will manage data, with peer-to-peer file downloaders getting throttled, if need be, to ensure decent performance for others.

But on the whole, the market shift to unlimited plans from Telecom, Vodafone, Slingshot, Orcon and others is hugely welcome. We're finally catching up with the rest of the world, as measured by the OECD (if, ironically, at a time when an increasing number of US users are getting capped — albeit at a far higher level than NZ).

The Giganaire has copped flak for being a "racist" parody of hip-hop culture. Telecom COO Jason Paris says it makes fun of middle-aged dads trying to be cool. As an uncool dad who nods his head along to the rap, I'm inclined to agree with Paris.

It's a hugely positive trend that the naked (broadband with no home line) plans offered by Telecom's new budget brand, Big Pipe, are now filtering through to its mainstream service.

If you're willing to have your mobile with Telecom or Vodafone too, both are now offering some great naked unlimited plans (if only the naked element would apply to fibre as well as ADSL and VDSL copper broadband — VDSL can be killer, but unlike fibre it's bandwidth degrades sharply the further you are from the nearest phone exchange or cabinet. It's also much more susceptible to contention, or peak-time sluggishness, than fibre).

Vodafone, for example, is offering unlimited VDSL for $79 a month (for those who also have an on-account mobile). Deals like that must make 2degrees think, "Should be hurry up and buy Orcon?".

In an age of cloud computing at work and home, and on-demand broadband viewing, it makes a lot of sense to differentiate plans by speed, rather than the amount of data used each month.

In Telecom's case, there's no doubt a degree of positioning itself ahead of the launch of its broadband movie and TV service (formerly called ShowMeTV), which will be available to customers of all ISPs. It just wouldn't have been a good look to have Vodafone, CallPlus and Slingshot uncapped customers able to watch ShowMeTV without worries, while Telecom customers had to constantly check their data limit.

Telecom's new unlimited broadband plans start at $99 for ADSL copper broadband users (the price point established by rivals CallPlus and Orcon). An unlimited data UFB plan costs from $109 to $139 (faster plans cost more); an unlimited data VDSL plan $119.

Slingshot says Telecom and Vodafone's move into unlimited plans has prompted it to cut its own entry-level broadband plan from $99 to $89. The deals keep coming.

We're still living in a less-than-perfect broadband world, of course. 

I'm one of many urban dwellers whose home is out of reach of VDSL, and whose suburb has no starting date for UFB fibre.

And Chorus needs to hurry up and move its 200Mbit/s UFB pilot to a commercial release phase — at least if it has any interest in preventing VDSL update from retarding the fibre rollout, as Vodafone fears.

Still, as someone who uses cloud software almost exclusively for work (including working from home), and Apple TV for a lot of his viewing, I'm loving the market move toward unlimited plans.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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