iPrimus refresh weathers Melbourne hail

iPrimus boss Ravi Bhatia says its $2.5 million infrastructure overhaul in Melbourne has paid off, with the internet service provider avoiding outages during this weekend's golf-ball size hailstorm.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

iPrimus boss Ravi Bhatia says its $2.5 million infrastructure overhaul in Melbourne has paid off, with the internet service provider avoiding outages during this weekend's golf-ball size hailstorm.

Ravi Bhatia

iPrimus boss, Ravi Bhatia
(Credit: Liam Tung/ZDNet.com.au)

"It was a terrible hailstorm, but fortunately — more out of hard work than luck — we were not affected," Bhatia told ZDNet.com.au.

It's believed that Global Center, owned by Datacom, did suffer outages this weekend with speculation it had been caused by flooding. ZDNet.com.au is awaiting a response from parent company Datacom.

Bhatia said its $2.5 million refurbishment, completed in January this year, included moving its power supply to a new substation, overhauling power distribution systems, adding new generators and electronic backup switches, installing a new uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit, new cooling towers and compressors, and air conditioning.

Last year's repeat outages were a "wake up call" for the company, he said. "The outages were not caused by anything that was our fault. It was the mains power supply. But at the end of the day we cannot have outages."

iPrimus equipment was hit by the hailstorm, which pelted down golf-size chunks of ice; however, customers were not affected.

"The mains power supply was pretty unstable," said Bhatia. "The cooling towers and diesel are on the rooftop which was exposed to severe weather conditions."

"And I am insisting that all our staff are trained in handling emergencies. They're trained and it makes me very happy that all steps we have taken in terms of infrastructure and people have paid off."

National Broadband Network

iPrimus has confirmed it does have plans to offer fibre-to-the-home services at Tasmania's end of the National Broadband Network, though Bhatia was unsure what prices would be charged. NBN Tasmania has already begun approaching retail service providers

"Wholesale pricing has not been given yet," he said.

iPrimus currently offers fibre services to businesses in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, while its consumer fibre products have been limited to greenfield estates in Melbourne's outer suburbs.

"Greenfield estates are really pilot customers. That is a proof of concept operation. In so far as actual customer prices are concerned, we would know once we have more discussions with NBN Tasmania to see what the access costs are."

There has been some concern amongst carriers that the 5000 households at Tasmania suburbs Scottsdale, Midway Point and Smithton selected for early deployment may not see the value in such high speed services.

Pricing, said Bhatia, would "not be that simple". The cost model would include the cost of service, backhaul, and data bandwidth. "So, it's not that straightforward and we don't know until today the details of the demarcation point."

Other factors included the device at the customer's premises and the distribution of households. "There is still some way to go on that," he said.

On price, he said iPrimus' current wholesale costs for ULL — unbundled local loop — in metropolitan or Zone 2 areas was $16.70 per month. For customers this translated into $29.95 for an ADSL2+ 3GB per month service, while at the high end its iPrimus Max product which includes data, voice and unlimited calling was $89.00 per month.

While he wasn't sure yet what pricing would be offered for consumers on the NBN, he said: "It would be difficult to find a household who would accept paying $180 per month broadband service at home."

On the other hand, he warned that some telecommunications analysts were "raising bogies" on price and demand for the NBN.

"How can people make such sweeping statements with such certainty? Let's see. We have to wait for the completion of the implementation study, and then after that things will probably become clearer."

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