Analysis: Free internet until March for signups to Telecom's new no-frills, no-datacap ISP
Dec 13: Telecom is offering signups to its new no-frills ISP, Big Pipe, free internet until March next year.
NBR registered for the company's Big Pipe trial, and received a message saying places were limited.
Telecom did not immediately respond to a query about the numbers involved. [UPDATE: "Digital Ventures is looking to recruit enough ‘test pilots’ to provide that sort of consumer insight. We think around 100-200 will be about enough. And it’s important to note that in return for the free broadband until March customers are expected to help out in a range of ways, for example with feedback, responding to surveys, and talking to researchers," Telecom spokesman Richard Llewellyn tells NBR.]
Big Pipe's Facebook page has 466 likes, indicating the new service has get to create killer buzz.
The registration page reveals Big Pipe will have no phone support (a 24/7 calldesk is one of the unique differentiators for Telecom's ISP service proper).
It also notes that Big Pipe is a case of bring-your-own modem, and double-checks that customers are aware they will lose their landline for voice calls with its "naked" broadband plans.
Highlighting the risk of cannibilisation, a "Who's your current internet service provider?" question during the Big Pipe registration process includes "Telecom" among its multichoice options.
Telecom quietly recruits 'test pilots' for new low cost ISP
Nov 28: Telecom is quietly testing the waters for a new, low cost, no-frills internet service featuring no data limits, and no contracts.
Big Pipe will offer naked broadband from $69 a month.
The company is using the little-publicised Big Pipe home page, and overtures to members of online forum Geekzone, to recruit "test pilots" for the new ISP sub-brand.
Echoing the launch of Skinny in the mobile market, there is no Telecom branding on the Big Pipe home page, or its (so far little-noticed) Facebook page.
All plans offer uncapped data and range from a joke speed at $69 (1Mbit/s up and down) to up to 20Mbit/s down for $79 and up to 60Mbit/s down for $99.
All are over ADSL or VDSL (that is, copper broadband rather than fibre).
Traditionally, Telecom has steered clear of naked broadband,which offers internet without the need to buy a homeline too (voice calls historically being a cash cow for the incumbent).
Vodafone has complained that VDSL (the fastest form of copper broadband, recently launched by Telecom), has retarded fibre uptake.
Asked if Big Pipe would lack Telecom-proper's 24/7 support - a signature point of difference with other ISPs - spokesman Andrew Pirie said that and other details were still being worked out as potential trialists are signed up.
No official launch date has been set.
"It’s just a small scale trial to test a new market proposition in the broadband space," Mr Pirie tells NBR.
"Part of the Digital Ventures brief is to take a look at possible new business models and see what might work in the future. It would be an overstatement at this time to call it a ‘launch’."
Big Pipe is billed as another project from Telecom skunkworks unit Digital Ventures - the team behind the phonebox wi-fi network, and this week's $5 million investment in Sir Ray Avery's Vigil home health monitoring startup. Both were cool projects. But Big Pipe seems more of a branding manoeuvre a la Skinny in the mobile space.
NBR registered for Big Pipe, and received an email saying "We will let you know if you make the cut for our pre-launch offer." (Spoiler: sadly your author, like around half in urban areas, lives too far from a phone exchange or cabinet to get VDSL, so already doesn't make the cut for the top speed on offer.)
A parallel initiative has seen a limited number of Telecom-proper internet customers offered naked broadband as part of a soft launch.