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Telecom Chops Off Muscular Dystrophy Association



The new free Internet Service Provider i4free today applied for an injunction to stop Telecom from cutting lines servicing the new company.

The legal action follows Telecom cutting of further service lines last night to organisations it believed were associated with i4free.

Telecom's move came 30 minutes after i4free Chief Executive Annette Presley appeared on television news criticising Telecom.

Telecom's action cut off more than 2000 customers including the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand. Telecom also cut lines to WorldXchange Communications and Attica Communication and another 1000 people who have no connections whatsoever with i4free. It restored their services some hours later when they found they had made a mistake.

However early this morning, WorldXchange received a threat from Telecom that it would disconnect all of WorldXchange's 0867 telephone numbers if they provided any assistance to i4free.

I4free's injunction is seeking to get Telecom to provide it with the same service that it does to other pay ISP operators and to ensure it does not use its near monopoly to obstruct i4free from establishing its business.

Annette Presley says Telecom's over-reaction to the threat of competition highlighted the problems of having a totally dominant player is what was meant to be a competitive market.

"Their type of action any other jurisdiction would be absolutely illegal, but in the New Zealand environment they can be obstructive and use the legal system to maintain their near monopoly.

"With Telecom extracting millions a day in near monopoly profits from a market of only 3.8 million people it's the economical strategy for them to delay other people and set up legal diversions. In the meantime it's the public and the country that is suffering.

"Clearly Telecom fears New Zealanders will rush to enjoy the free Internet access that people overseas have had for some time. Over 500,000 Australians have already signed up with free Internet services and more than 3 million Americans are signed up with one US free ISP service alone.

Free ISP services work by carrying advertising, sponsorship and affiliated shopping partner links. These arrangements cover the costs, just as advertisers pay for free-to-air radio and television.

i4free is offering a truly free service with no connection fees, no set-up costs, no restrictions on the amount of use and no charges for email. In short, there are no financial obligations for the customer.

It has an on-line sign-up procedure and the latest generating technology which will mean customers can enjoy high-speed downloads and easy connections. The free e-mail service is available immediately to customers and their webmail interface can be accessed anywhere in the world, without dialing direct into i4free. Sophisticated encryption systems ensure that privacy is maintained.

i4free will initially be restricting membership to 8,000 subscribers, primarily to ensure the quality of the service is maintained. i4free propose to have 100,000 subscribers using their service by the end of the year.

i4free is a privately owned New Zealand company that is backed by a number of corporate and individual shareholders in the telecommunications, data networking, Internet, advertising and direct marketing fields.


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