AAPT customers relieved of uncertainty next week

iiNet shareholders vote "resoundingly" in favour of $60 million acquisition

iiNet chief executive officer, Michael Malone

iiNet chief executive officer, Michael Malone

AAPT retail customers will learn how and if their current monthly plans are affected as a result of the iiNet within the next week.

iiNet shareholders voted “resoundingly” in favour of the $60 million deal this week in a general meeting lasting just 15 minutes. Carrier relations manager, Stephen Dalby, told Computerworld Australia there had been no expectation of any real opposition to the deal, with major shareholders Perth Internet Group - the public interest of chief executive, Michael Malone - and Amcom already indicating their favour to the acquisition.

As part of the deal, iiNet will acquire AAPT’s customer base, solidifying it as the second largest DSL service provider in Australia. It will also gain 50 to 60 AAPT staff in Sydney, but will not acquire any existing DSLAMs or other infrastructure.

The sale is expected to be completed and all customer assets transitioned from previous owner, Telecom NZ to the Perth-based service provider over the coming days, during which iiNet will analyse the customer data to determine which AAPT plans, if any, will change under the new management.

AAPT has fulfilled its contractual obligations, notifying affected customers of the switchover 30 days ahead of schedule.

“Most customers will just continue on as if nothing has happened,” Dalby said, pointing to the majority of the 113,000 customers that will become a part of iiNet’s business from next week. Though the ISP has mulled implementing AAPT’s white label billing engine, customers are expected to receive the same invoices following acquisition, with no noticeable changes.

The affirmation from the ISP will likely settle the concerns of many AAPT customers who have publicly decried the uncertainty they faced over the past month on the Whirlpool user forum, but the fate of the smaller ISP’s popular unlimited, 24/7 plan continues to hang in the balance.

“We’re expecting that it’s only the unlimited 24/7 plans that will be affected but until we can do the actual homework on the customer data it’s difficult to know what the numbers might be, how many people might be affected if anything,” he said. According to Dalby, only a fraction of AAPT’s customer base are likely to be using the plan, which Malone has signalled are a loss-maker for any company.

Some users are reported to have downloaded as much as five terabytes in a month on the plan, five times the amount capable under iiNet’s highest quota consumer plan.

“On AAPT’s cost base they lost money [on the unlimited plan],” he said. “iiNet’s cost base is a lot less than AAPT’s and they are still drastically loss-making.”

Dalby said iiNet will communicate with customers prior to taking any action on the plans, but he thought most would be unlikely to need so much data in any case.

“Quite often customers are not sure of how much quota they need and will take a much higher quota plan than they require,” he said.

“It’s not like we’re going to cut anyone off or doing anything drastic. We need to do the homework first and communicate with the customer, and that will all happen over the next week.”

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