Island Life by David Slack

All you can eat, assuming you're not very hungry

Business New Zealand waded into the Broadband debate yesterday. Quoting from the release:

Business NZ has called for a more factually based argument over broadband access.
Chief Executive Phil O'Reilly says given the conflicting claims over broadband volume and price, Business NZ had decided to commission the same company* responsible for the Ministry of Economic Development's broadband reports to find out the current competitive situation on how well New Zealand consumers are being served.
He says the research shows that since Telecom's recent price changes, its broadband offerings are now among the best priced in the world.

Coverage, so far, of their contribution has been a little short on an actual comparison of the oranges, apples and lemons in question, which of course is what you want in a more factually based argument, so I asked Business NZ for a copy of the data. You can see the gory facts, details, apples and oranges in these three PDF tables.

Table One

Table Two

Table Three

A few observations:

The tables can tell you what you'll pay for a given speed, but they can't tell you whether you'll actually get the speed you're being sold. That's the point Russell was making yesterday about contention rates. You might think you're signing up for the superhighway, but you may well find that Telecom is letting so many cars onto the motorway in your area, that you're still going at a crawl.

Secondly, the tables make it pretty obvious that this is one of the few places where you have a monthly limit on how many miles you can do on the highway.

Run through the various tables and see how many of the entries end with the alluring letters "UL". I'm assuming it doesn't stand for "Usually Lousy". Unless I'm completely misinterpreting the context, it means "Unlimited", and dammit, at a speed of 250, you'd think Telecom could spring for more than a lousy 0.2 GB in the entry level deal described in Table 1.

What is clear is that the prices for these particular packages do indeed look competitive as far as the price goes. In the case of the Pro Ultra deal in Table 3, it's clearly a vast improvement on the various crap deals I put up with when I was a JetStream customer. 40 gig is a lot of monthly traffic, and at $142, not terribly onerous for your average business. But what guarantee do you have that you'll get the promised performance? My own experience with JetStream was that it could slow to a crawl. Given their recurring theme of squeezing the most from the least, it would surprise me to see Telecom really doing right by the long-suffering customer.

And working back down the scale from the Pro Ultra, the rest of it still looks a bit shabby. Phil O'Reilly is correct, up to a point: their prices are in the right place in the table. But compare the speeds and the cap limits in Tables 1 and 2 especially, and you find that the customer gets not a lot for their dollar.


Paul Brislen points out that these numbers only compare incumbents with incumbents.

In other un-spun words: amongst a group of not very competitive incumbent telcos, Telecom doesn't come off too badly ...


Juha Saarinen has much more detail here. In brief:

- Outdated or inaccurate information in 21 of the 30 countries listed;
- 15 of the 30 countries now offer uncapped services;
- 512kbit/s plans are the typical minimum;
- Report only looks at incumbent telcos' plans, not new offerings;
- Report doesn't include ADSL 2+ plans, only first generation ADSL