Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Let the unbundling begin

It’s good see the unbundling starting!

Unbundling is about letting other companies have access to Telecom’s local loop. It’s taken a while – more than a while – but finally the first products are available. Orcon can now sell you a bundle involving your broadband Internet – faster than Telecom’s – and a telephone line free local and national calls, using your existing number, all for what they say is $30 a month less than Telecom.

It’s currently available in only 5 exchanges, all of them in Auckland. Orcon say they will be extending into Wellington and other cities soon. In the meantime, if you’re interested in faster broadband and cheaper phone calls and you live in Auckland, have a look at the Orcon website and see whether it’s in your suburb.

Orcon are the first to launch but they won;’t be the last. Vodafone – or “Vodahug” to its friends, is definitely up for this. They haven’t launched yet, but they say they will have all of Auckland covered by the end of the year, and make a start in some of the other centres – and they are installing equipment that will give you even faster speeds, up to 50Mbps if you are close to your exchange. Incidentally my spies tell me that Telecom is being pretty good at letting people into the exchanges to install this gear – we haven’t seen keys to the exchange being mislaid as happened in Australia when Telstra was forced to go the same route. There are still problems though figuring out how Telecom’s desire to move a lot of the gear into smaller roadside cabinets will play out, but that’s something for a programme of its own. CallPlus will probably launch sometime this year as well, and I expect others to as well.

The Orcon prices certainly look keen – but the real point of unbundling is that it allows companies to try to sell a range of services of different qualities and prices, whatever they think someone might want and be prepared to pay for. So, you could imagine companies competing at least partly on price, and maybe some delivering much better, more specialist services – faster, lower latency, that kind of thing – at a higher price than Telecom did for its one-size-fits-all model. When there was only one place you could get the service that was never going to happen.

A few links:

Russell Brown’s article about the new Orcon services, and Vodafone’s release about its plans.

posted by colin at 6:26 am  

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