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The “Year Of Broadband”

Fri, 5 Nov 2004

Figures Show It Really Is The “Year Of Broadband”

New Zealanders have been connecting to broadband in record numbers since the introduction of new high-speed, flat-rate plans last month.

“Broadband has been selling at an unprecedented rate,” Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung said today.

The new Xtra JetStream range includes plans that run on 1Mbps and 2Mbps with no extra charge for going over the usage caps.

“JetStream sales are growing rapidly. We’ve been signing up around 800 new broadband customers a day – and last weekend was our best weekend yet, six times higher than the weekend average over the last six months.

“We’re well on track to reach the target of broadband in 250,000 Kiwi households by the end of 2005,” Ms Gattung said.

Figures released today showed that as at 30 September 2004, before the new plans were available, Telecom had 98,000 residential customers on JetStream – double the number of a year earlier.

With business connections added, Telecom had 139,000 JetStream connections at 30 September 2004.

Telecom today delivered the first of its quarterly broadband reports to the Commerce Commission. The report excludes customers on 128kbps plans and on that basis Telecom reported 74,500 residential customers and 41,000 business customers on broadband.

Ms Gattung said the number of customers on 128kbps plans fell by 13,000 to 24,000 over the year as customers switched to higher-speed broadband plans. Telecom is on a programme to switch all those customers to higher-speed plans in coming months.

“We’re excited that broadband is starting to take off in New Zealand. In some parts of the country such as Auckland, more than 10% of households now have broadband. It is also great to see similar levels of uptake occurring in some of the provincial centres such as Queenstown, Wanaka and Kerikeri.

“If you look at the experience of other innovations such as pay TV or DVDs, that’s the point where a service moves from a minority interest to a “must have” in the mass market.

“With the cost of switching from dial-up to high-speed broadband now just the equivalent of three cups of coffee a month, it’s easy to see why so many families are getting into it.

“As broadband is now moving into that stage, we’re exploring extra value we can add such as making more education content available on line.

“We want to work with the Government and others to develop those services. Project PROBE has shown that co-operation can really bring results.

“PROBE was all about the Government working with suppliers to deliver broadband to schools and their communities, particularly in rural New Zealand. We’re about to pass some important milestones in our PROBE regions which mean that, along with the work that others have been doing, the vast majority of New Zealand schoolchildren will start the 2005 school year within reach of broadband.

“More than half of all secondary schools are on broadband, and more than 100,000 students are benefiting from our managed, secure Internet and video-conferencing service, SchoolZone.

“There’s a revolution going on in New Zealand schools and we’re excited to be part of it.”

Ms Gattung said Telecom has always believed wholesale would be a significant part of broadband’s growth story in New Zealand.

“I’m pleased to say we have overcome the technical difficulties we encountered with the Unbundled BitStream Service. UBS will now be available for other ISPs to develop their own broadband plans from 8 November, allowing ISPs to switch over from the interim UBS plan we’ve had in place.

“We regret the problem we encountered with UBS because, as with the wholesaling of residential and business services, we want to demonstrate that we’re committed to the success of the regime.

“We’ve made public commitments to launch higher speed UBS plans early in 2005. And it’s important to note that all our JetStream plans are available to other ISPs on a resale and wholesale basis.”

Ms Gattung said it was very pleasing that the Commerce Commission has confirmed it is satisfied that Telecom is meeting its commitment to offer Unbundled Partial Circuits (UPC) which allows other carriers to deliver high-end data services to their customers using Telecom’s network.

ENDS

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