Suddenly unlimited fibre plans are everywhere. They are more affordable than you might expect. Prices start from as little as $75. You’ll be hard pressed to spend twice that amount for even the fastest residential plan.
Unlimited data makes sense for both consumers and service providers.
For consumers it means no longer worrying about download caps. It eliminates the fear of being caught for a huge extra data charge.
This freedom changes user behaviour. You no longer have to weigh up cost considerations before doing anything online.
For service providers it simplifies billing — a significant cost saving. Uncapped data also means a fixed, probably higher, monthly revenue and causes less ill-will when customers bust their caps.
It also gives ISPs an opportunity to differentiate, adding value with entertainment or other services which might otherwise hold less attraction for customers if they had to ration their viewing or gaming.
Unlimited fibre, the headline price table
In technical terms New Zealand’s UFB network is a shared, separated infrastructure layer. This means retail ISPs all buy the same pre-configured fibre services from wholesale network companies who are not allowed to sell direct.
Service can compete on price, on how they deal with customers, on back-haul quality and the products and services they wrap around the wholesale services from Chorus, Enable, Ultrafast Fibre and NorthPower.
You’ll find the headline price information in the main table here, but you’ll need to look at the small print lower down the page to get the bigger picture.
Some ISPs bundle more features into their base offers, others go for the lowest possible headline price then charge extra for products and services. I’ve outlined what I think are the most important points below.
I don’t have the resources to make a proper comparison of how each ISP deals with customers, some have better reputations than others and not all users need the same level of support. You’ll have to find your own way through that maze. A good place to start is user forums on sites like Geekzone.
Spark’s no-fills Bigpipe subsidiary is mainly about offering the lowest price. There’s no phone support, just email. There’s no installation charge. No fixed term contracts. You need to buy your own fibre router. Bigpipe is a naked line. That means you’ll no longer have a phone line. If you want a VoIP phone you’ll have to make your own arrangements.
In return for signing a 12 month contract Orcon will give you a Genius phone modem, a phone line and unlimited national calling (although the calls are each limited to one hour). Price includes installation. Orion offers naked plans, that is without a phone, for $10 a month less.
Slingshot’s big draw card is Global Mode, a service that lets you use sites and services not normally available to New Zealanders. It means you can sign up for geographically restricted services. Slingshot customers also get a free 500GB storage account at Mega and can buy a wireless router or modem for $20. Plans include a home phone line.
Fibre plans include a home phone line with caller ID, call waiting, voicemail and some bundled calls. You can choose between contract and open-ended plans. No set up fees for contract customers, otherwise $99. Contract customers also get discounts on wireless routers.
Spark plans include a free Lightbox account for online TV. Signing a contract means free installation and a free wireless router although there may be a postage charge. You also get a $100 credit against your Spark account when signing up. At the time of writing you will need to keep your copper phone line if you sign for Spark’s UFB service.
Vodafone mobile customers get a $10 a month discount on fibre prices. Also discounts on Sky TV service delivered over fibre. Connection and modems are free for contract customers although there is a $15 postage charge.
Sign a 24 month contract with Voyager and you’ll get free installation and a modem. There’s a $79 charge if you sign a 12 month contract. The modem will give you access to voice calling with no charge for local calls. There are charges for other calls. $10 a month buys uncapped national calls.