Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Project Probe has resulted in millions of taxpayer dollars being handed
out to large communications companies - mainly Telecom New Zealand.
In return for this money, Telecom (and others) are extending the reach of
their broadband offerings into areas that might otherwise be considered
not to be economically viable.
This is obviously a good thing for those living in such areas and for the nation's
cyber-literacy as a whole, so there can hardly be any complaints from that
I'm left wondering however, why the many millions of dollars that have effectively
subsidised (mainly) Telecom's broadband expansion don't earn customers (aka taxpayers)
a discount on the provision of that service.
Telecom is quick to tell us all in their advertising that its JetSurf plans
offer amazing value, being priced from just $39 a month but there's an
awful lot of marketing spin and less than truthful hype in there.
For example: can you get the $39 a month JetSurf product without also
paying around $40 a month for a telephone connection?
I think not.
So, for the growing number of people who are happy to use their cellphones
in preference for a land-line connection, Telecom's JetSurf actually starts
at around $80 a month.
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And what do you get for your $80?
Well bugger-all actually.
You get a measly 256/128K service that is only just fast enough to qualify
as broadband and would not seriously be considered such in any other
You also get a miserly 1 GB of data -- an absolute joke -- that's barely
15 minutes of full-speed use per day.
Compare this to what's on offer in the USA. An Aardvark reader recently
posted a link to this page in
the aardvark forums.
Shocking isn't it?
You don't see anything less than a 5Mb/2Mb service there and it costs just
NZ$61.50 per month with *NO* data caps and a data-modem as part of the deal.
But NZ's a small country and we don't have the economies of scale so it's
unfair to expect Telecom to offer equivalent pricing right?
Well wrong actually.
Let's not forget that the taxpayer is currently subsidising Telecom's DSL
expansion to a huge extent right now so they're in an even more enviable
position than Verizon when it comes to the cost of creating a DSL network.
I'm also informed that DSL broadband pricing is not much higher even in smaller
more geographically remote US towns and cities -- and this is still without
Take a look at this discussion
for more about how NZ's broadband deals stack up.
I'm sorry but I believe the taxpayer is being ripped off by the current Project Probe
What we have now is not to dissimilar to buying a house for your landlord and
then having to pay him rent in order to live in it.
Surely, if the taxpayer is going to stump up with millions to help pay for
plant and equipment that becomes the property of Telecom, we should be entitled
to recover some of that money by way of a reduced DSL pricing regime that
offers at least some parity with other first-world countries.
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