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Telecom Suffer At Hands Of Saturn On Kapiti Coast

Over half of the people on the Kapiti Coast with access to Saturn Communications have switched from Telecom and signed up with the new and cheaper telecommunications company.

Saturn services are available for 10,000 of the 15,000 homes on the Kapiti Coast and Saturn Corporate Development spokesperson Sean Wynne said 6,000 homes have now switched from Telecom to Saturn.

Wynne said the company is working on extending services to the other 5,000 homes in the area and expects to secure a similar percentage of those customers. By this time next year he expects all homes on the Coast will have access to Saturn services and that around 65 per cent of them will switch from Telecom.

Telecom has become increasingly unpopular on the Kapiti Coast due to toll fees for calls from the Kapiti Coast to Wellington, despite the Kapiti Coast being inside the greater Wellington region. Telecom customers in Kapiti can choose to pay a sum on top of their line rental for toll-free calling to Wellington, however one year ago this sum increased from $13 to $20 per month.

Saturn on the other hand offer toll free calling to Wellington as a matter of course, and this represents significant savings for Coast dwellers. Line rental with toll-free calling to Wellington is $29 per month with Saturn, compared with $57 per month with Telecom.

Public meetings were held on the Coast to discuss the increase in Telecom toll charges at the time, and some residents have placed anti- Telecom signs on their roadside land. However locals say the most effective protest is over half of all Kapiti Coasters taking their business elsewhere.

Telecom spokesperson Linda Sanders acknowledges that Saturn have made an impact in the area but questions Saturn's figures on their share of the market, saying that they may "overstate their position somewhat".

Sanders agrees that Saturn's toll-free calling to Wellington is attractive to some customers on the Kapiti Coast but says Telecom have to charge for those calls due to boundaries they inherited and cannot change.

Telecom is coming up with telecommunications packages which offer benefits to Kapiti Coast residents, but Telecom "still have a lot of customers up there who are very happy with our service", said Sanders.

In Wellington, Saturn have signed up about 25 per cent of those houses where their service is available. Sean Wynne said this was "in line with our projections".

ENDS

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