Internet offer caps speed, not data

By Helen Twose

Telecom is to offer an uncapped broadband internet deal but customers will have to trade off connection speed.

From next week a new $60 a month "all you can eat" plan will be offered with the compromise that downloads may be slower at peak times.

Ralph Brayham, director of home services for Telecom retail, said the Big Time plan was aimed at customers wanting either price certainty or unlimited internet allowances.

Brayham said Telecom would "unashamedly" manage internet traffic of customers on Big Time, giving those on Telecom's "speed" plans - offering "full speed" broadband but a capped data allowance - priority over Big Time subscribers.

"It's very much around people who want certainty, not around people who want performance," he said.

Brayham said during peak hours - generally 3pm to 10pm - internet traffic "shaping" would target files consuming large amounts of bandwidth, which could include some music, movie and software downloads.

Telecommunications analyst Rosalie Nelson of IDC said typically uncapped plans were a premium product aimed at heavy users demanding large capacity who were willing to pay for it. However, Telecom's "trade-off" tariff was a "smart move".

Earlier this week, pay TV giant Sky chief executive John Fellet blamed data download caps for the company abandoning its Sky Online site.

For a $5 monthly fee subscribers could sign up with Sky Online, open an account, and download unlimited content in accordance with their Sky plan.

But Mr Fellet said the company had become the "meat in the sandwich" between customers and internet providers when Sky downloads had pushed people over their data allowances and resulted in penalty payments or slowdowns to dial-up speed.

In 2006 Telecom launched its Go Large plan promising unlimited data usage and "blazing speeds". But many of the 60,000 consumers signed up found speeds were slower than they'd previously experienced, costing the company millions in refunds and a Fair Trading Act prosecution.

* Big Time

No monthly data allowance.

$59.95 or $10 extra for Total Home subscribers.

Bandwidth priority given to customers on "speed" plans at peak hours.

No speed guarantees from Telecom.

Available July 7.

- NZ Herald

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