Finally. More than a year after the government decided to unbundle the local loop, on Thursday Orcon became the first ISP to allow you to set up a standard home phone line, and broadband connection, without having to deal with Telecom (another regulatory change means you can keep your Telecom phone number if you switch; Orcon says the process should take half a day).
The new plans are possible because, under the new local loop unbundling regime, Kordia-owned Orcon has been able to install its own ADSL2+ gear (made by Nokia-Siemens) inside Telecom's suburban exchanges - but so far only five of them, and all in Auckland (Glenfield, Browns Bay, Ellerslie, Mt Albert and Ponsonby).
Orcon says it hopes to add another 10 exchanges by the end of May, and "major cities in stages" over 2008 and 2009 (the slow pace is not Orcon or any other ISP's fault; rather that the Commerce Commission has required Telecom to unbundle exchanges only at the stately pace of 15 a quarter, meaning it could take 10 years to open all 650 to competition - and our dominant telco is in no hurry to open its local loop to competitors).
Orcon's new plans, all under the Orcon@home+ banner, range from
$79.95/month for a 10GB data cap and no phone line to
$99.95/month for a 10GB cap, unlimited free local and national calling, voicemail, call waiting and caller ID, with unlimited international calls to 15 countries for $10 extra/month to
$119/month for a 25GB cap, unlimited free and national calling, all the calling extras mentioned above plus the option to call 14 more countries for $10/month, plus a free Orcon "Homehub" wireless router.
All the Orcon@home+ plans offer extra data at $1/GB, or slightly cheaper if you buy a bulk block, and all are ADSL2+ so, if you're close enough to your local exchange, with a clean enough line, you'll get up to 24Mbit/s download, and up to 1Mbit/s upload. Reviews Editor Scott Bartley has become the first PC World staff member to get his home connection via an ADSL2+ connection, and he reports download speeds of up to 12Mbit/s. No where near the theoretical maximum but, boy, I'd take it.
For people living in areas yet to have their exchanges unbundled, Orcon has released a range of unbundled bitstream (UBA) plans, which also add phone services, but without voicemail, call waiting and caller ID.