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Bill Bennett


Skinny Broadband sweetens fixed wireless internet deal

Skinny Broadband has dropped the cost of a fixed wireless internet connection. From today it costs 20 percent less. The price is $52 a month for 100GB of data.

If you don’t need the highest download speeds and lots of data it is a great alternative to fixed line internet. See an in-depth review of the service written when it first launched in January 2016.

You need to buy a fixed wireless modem from Skinny before you can use the service. It costs $100 and a courier will deliver it to your home.

Seven months since Skinny Broadband launch

When Skinny Broadband launched, the price for a 60GB data plan was $55 a month plus $200 upfront for the modem.

Soon after launch, the modem price dropped to $100. Then Skinny added a 100GB plan for $65. This week Skinny settled on the cheaper and simpler 100GB for $52 plan.

One advantage Skinny Broadband has is it is prepay. This means customers only buy as much internet as they need. You might, say, use it if you move to a seaside bach for a couple of months over the summer. Students may sign for the service in term time, then use their parent’s internet during vacation.

Spark’s cunning fixed wireless plan

Skinny is a Spark subsidiary brand. It began by selling low-cost prepaid mobile phone plans. It expanded into prepaid broadband earlier this year.

While Skinny says “sales to date continue to hit target”, Spark is more positive.

Speaking at the company’s full-year results announcement, Spark New Zealand managing director Simon Moutter says fixed wireless broadband has exciting potential. He says it uses the significant spectrum assets Spark acquired in recent years.

Moutter says Skinny Broadband is a beta test of the company’s wireless internet plans. To date that service has signed about 12,000 customers.

Now Spark plans to ramp up its wireless broadband offering. It aims to add another 50,000 more connections in the next year.

The next step will see a full market launch of a fixed wireless service. Spark plans to promote it as a substitute for fixed-line broadband. The company will target the low-end of the market.

Beyond Skinny and Spark

Spark already sells fixed wireless to out-of-towners as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative. What is less known is that the company sells it to townsfolk as well.

Vodafone does much the same with its RBI fixed wireless offer. For now, Vodafone is not talking about ramping up its fixed wireless offer to urban customers. Yet a move would make sense. The company has the spectrum and the necessary technology is already in place.

Rival 2degrees has less suitable wireless spectrum to play with. Even so, in theory, it could offer its own fixed wireless service.

Much of the telecommunications industry interest in fixed wireless internet comes down to bypassing high wholesale landline charges. Thanks to a Commerce Commission ruling the wholesale cost of a copper line is $41.69. This is high by international standards and makes fixed wireless broadband more competitive.



7 thoughts on “Skinny Broadband sweetens fixed wireless internet deal

  1. I agree with you that Spark is being very canny with fixed wireless, the product rocks and is very close to being UFB in a box!

    I think the rural dynamic is fascinating as Spark isn’t part of the RBI but matches Vodafone’s RBI offering, I suspect they’re going to seriously outsell Vodafone’s service

    The reason is simple, Spark is the dominant rural retailer and is delighted every time a customer cuts the copper and upgrades to fixed wireless

    Vodafone has an uphill battle in rural as they have to build a customer base from scratch and they are dependent on their RBI wholesale customers to make up the numbers

    The loser in this game is Chorus

    1. Agree. The other point is Vodafone got off to a shaky RBI start with 3G. Spark’s RBI was 4G from day one. The first Spark RBI customer I spoke to was a farmer getting 80 Mbps. His neighbour was getting 1 or 2 Mbps from Vodafone. That message gets around fast in rural areas.

      The best thing is that a kick in the backside from Spark has seen Vodafone lift its game. The benefits of competition from shared rural towers are clear.

  2. Spark need to use that 70MHz of 2300MHz spectrum before the end of the year. The deal was they need to set up fixed-wireless broadband service in 15 areas, serving 30 percent of the residential population in those areas; or a mobile phone service available to at least 50 percent of the entire New Zealand population.Tick tick tick…

    1. RSM website now shows licences in some regional areas for the 2300MHz spectrum they own.

  3. If you are not on the magic Spark list of coverage addresses then skinny will not sell you a modem they say wait for my address to be covered . I get pretty good 4g here about 30MBps down and 11or so up but it seems that it has to be faster for it to be acceptable. Maybe its a technical thing with the modem you would probably know Bill. my voda landline never goes beyond 5Mbps so I was longingly expecting that the skinny offer would do the trick and at the right price. They tried to steer me to Sparks expensive Rural Broadband offer when I queried them.


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