Published on the 21/05/2021 | Written by Hayden McCall
WFH era brings reset for Vocus ISP…
Orcon, one of Vocus New Zealand’s several retail ISPs, has this week announced a change in its go to market services to deliver business grade services to residential customers.
The move is in response to the Covid-related mass migration from the office to home working environments and the need for higher service levels.
Chief executive Taryn Hamilton says the ISP has scrapped ‘business’ and ‘residential’ distinctions and will instead tailor technical solutions to match customer needs.
“In essence, we’re offering business grade service levels to anyone who wants it.”
“Connectivity in the home is no longer just about smooth 4K streaming. We know people run business critical applications from their home office, and there’s a need to offer more than just a straight pipe. We saw a real opportunity to create an ISP straddling the reality of a blended world and offering new and innovative solutions to modern internet problems.”
The ISP is pushing four offerings across ‘guaranteed’ home Wi-Fi coverage, fast(er) fibre, enhanced support and 4G backup for continuity in the event of a fibre failure at home.
In a collaboration with Google Nest, new customers will be taken through an onboarding workflow that uses address records to assess the size of their home or premise and recommend an optimal number of Google Nest Wifi units.
The guarantee relies on the Nest’s use of mesh technology to blanket the customer’s location in Wi-Fi signal.
The promise is backed up by Orcon’s technical team, which will provide assistance with location and set-up if needed, and will send out additional units at no cost if additional coverage is required.
Hamilton says Wi-Fi issues are the number one cause of complaints ISPs see.
“By using Google technology, house size data, and Orcon’s local technical support, these issues can easily be overcome.”
The base Nest unit is included with upgrade options for larger premises of 1 or 2 more units at $10/mth each.
The guarantee has an out clause, offering to refund customers their latest monthly bill and waiving early termination clauses in the event of sub-par Wi-Fi performance.
The ISP has worked with Google for several years offering packages using the now obsolete Google Wi-Fi range extender.
(And Dads, from personal experience, it is worth every cent to get Mum and the teenagers off your back).
Orcon will soon launch a new 2Gbps plan at $150/mth, has reduced pricing on its 4Gbps plan (to NZ$185) and is soon to introduce an 8Gbps plan.
Currently the 1Gbps (950 Mbps down, 450 up) plan is priced at around $100/mth, a no-brainer upgrade from the base 100Mbps plan at $90/mth.
Hamilton says that while the use-case for such ridiculous speeds is still outside most people’s needs, the ISP simply wants to offer the fastest plans possible.
“We’re also seeing tech-savvy businesses take up Hyperfibre and ditch expensive dedicated fibre circuits,” he adds.
In a new move for the Kiwi residential market, Orcon is offering a $15/mth Priority Support bolt-on which guarantees two things: if there’s a technical fault, a customer jumps the queue and is assured of having an onsite technician arrive within hours, not days. Further, customers calls and emails are routed to the next available agent.
“This provides peace-of-mind that any issues are fixed quickly for those running a business or working from home. In essence, we’re offering business grade service levels to anyone who wants it – in a smarter and cheaper way.”
Orcon launched its 4G Backup product in 2019 with small businesses in mind. If a customer’s main fibre connection goes down, the modem seamlessly switches over to 4G.
Hamilton says the service has proved popular with retailers and those reliant on Eftpos, but post-Covid the market is bigger than that.
“My own Covid experience confirmed that I need my internet to work, no ifs, buts or maybes,” Hamilton says. “Now people work up to five days a week from home and can’t afford downtime in the middle of a call, an online presentation, trading stocks or submitting a last-minute report. With 4G Backup, there’s an extra layer of reliability ready to kick in when you need it most.”
The announcement was accompanied with a new ‘Dream, Design, Innovate’ website and a dreamy TVC campaign that has users lost in a creative collaboration drifting into virtual orbit above earthly constraints. The campaign, says Hamilton, cost the company the ‘cost of an average Auckland house’ which, according to the latest valuations from QV, makes it upwards of a NZ$1.3 million investment, presumably with TV network placement costs still to come. The ad was directed by Joel Kefali, of Lorde’s Royals music video fame.
There was no news on Vocus New Zealand’s mooted IPO, after the parent company in Australia was lined up for sale to Macquarie and Real Assets (Mira), but indications are that this is still in the pipeline.
Vocus NZ had 226,000 broadband customers last year, making it the third-largest player in the fixed-line market after Spark and Vodafone New Zealand, and is the fourth largest telco overall, after 2degrees.
It reported revenues of almost NZ$400 million in the year to June and employs about 600 staff.