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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Uber Group first to reveal retail Crown Fibre pricing, caps


Whangarei ISP is the first to reveal retail UFB pricing - included bundled internet calling that cuts Telecom Retail out of the loop.

Chris Keall
Fri, 22 Jul 2011

Whangarei internet service provider Uber Group has revealed what it will charge home and business users to access Crown fibre laid under the government's $1.35 billion ultrafast broadband (UFB scheme).

NBR understands this is the first instance of retail pricing being made public.

The ISP, co-owned and managed by Hayden Simon, is retailing fibre provided by local UFB contract winner NorthPower.

Uber plans start at $99 a month for a 50Mbit/s speed (upload and download) connection with a 150GB data cap, on a 12-month contract.

There's also a $199 a month plan that lift's the data cap to 250GB - though speed remains at 50Mbit/s (on both plans, excess data is charged at $4.95 per GB).

Pricing is the same for business and residential customers.

All plans come with a bundled VoIP phone and free local calls over the internet - cutting Telecom Retail out of the loop.

National calls cost 10 cents per minute; calls to mobiles a less attractive 39 cents per minute.

As an interesting point of comparison, Australian ISP Internode has just announced some of the first locked-down retail pricing for the National Broadband Network (here). Allowing for the exchange rates and data caps, it's broadly similar.

Why not faster?
100Mbit/s has been the speed constantly quoted by Communications minister Steven Joyce.

50Mbit/s is still fast. By contract, the Commerce Commission recently found the average monthly top speed for DSL copper lines was 6.5Mbit/s. With copper - unlike fibre -speed depends on how close you live to a cabinet or phone exchange, and upload speed is always much slower. The aim of a recent major Telecom upgrade was to give most households 10Mbit/s+ copper/DSL bandwidth.

But why not faster?

"In a mass market situation, we run into an issue I never thought we’d see. Customers equipment (cheap switches, network cards, old school wireless routers, wireless interference from neighbours, slow computers) all effect the performance of the service. Up to 50Mbit/s you’re pretty safe," Mr Simon told NBR.

Why not cheaper?
Mr Joyce has widely promoted Crown Fibre Holdings' template pricing for wholesalers, which includes a 30Mbiit/s connection for $37.50 a month - raising expectations that retail pricing could be only around 20% mor than that, once retailers added their margin.

However, Uber has chosen to come in at the faster speed of 50Mbit/s - putting it safely above future copper DSL upgrades.

Crown Fibre wholesale template pricing for 100Mbit/s connections includes $55 a month and $58 a month plans. Mr Simon told NBR that Uber is on the $55 a month plan (see the government company's full template wholesale pricing here).

But like all of the template wholesale pricing (which is ex GST), does does not allow for international traffic, the crucial element of data caps (a monthly data allowance) or sundries such as marketing, and a router and phone for a VoIP connection (which Mr Simon said Uber prefers to supply itself for ease of tech support).

The $55 ex GST wholesale plan allowed little margiin for a data cap, Mr Simon said.

Customer goal
Uber aimed to sign 1000 customers in its first 12 months, Mr Simon said. Beyond that, progress will be contingent on how quickly NorthPower rolls out fibre around the region (it laid its first fibre ahead of Christmas).

His company was formed in 2004 and up until now has specialised in wireless broadband.

It has seven staff, making it a minnow in by any measure. But in terms of Crown Fibre retailing - with its first customers already being signed up - it's leading the pack.

50Mbit/s is fast. By contract, the Commerce Commission recently found the average monthly top speed for DSL copper lines was 6.5Mbit/s. With copper - unlike fibre -speed depends on how close you live to a cabinet or phone exchange, and upload speed is always much slower. The aim of a recent major Telecom upgrade was to give most households 10Mbit/s+ copper/DSL bandwidth.
Chris Keall
Fri, 22 Jul 2011
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Uber Group first to reveal retail Crown Fibre pricing, caps
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