FRENCH POLYNESIA TO DROP INTERNET RATES

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Feb. 23) – Following November's approximate 50 percent drop in Internet broadband access package costs, prices will drop another 13 to 24 percent within the next three months, the French Polynesia telecommunications minister announced Thursday.

"The Internet and ADSL have become an important communications tool, even indispensable, for households and businesses," said Emile Vernaudon, minister of the postal system and telecommunications. "But certain households don't have access to this technology and end up finding themselves handicapped."

As a result, Vernaudon said, two Internet items will be on the agenda for the next board of directors meeting of the Office des Postes et Télécommunications from March 6 to10. One item will call for lowering the cost of three of the four different broadband package hookups. The second item will call for extending broadband service to more of the outer islands.

The standard ADSL access used by many households and some small businesses will drop 13 percent in cost from 9,240 French Pacific francs [US$95] monthly to 9,000 French Pacific francs [US$93]. This unlimited access offers the same 128-kilobit per second downloading and uploading speed and a monthly consumption limit of 8 gigabytes.

The most expensive broadband access is known as "Xtrem" (as in extreme). Its unlimited access cost will drop 24 percent from 19,800 French Pacific francs [US$205] monthly to 15,000 French Pacific francs [US$155] monthly. This access offers a 512-kilobit per second downloading speed, a 256-kilobit per second uploading speed and a maximum consumption of 15 gigabytes.

The median access is known as the "Max". Its unlimited access cost will drop 24 percent from 12,980 French Pacific francs [US$134] monthly to 10,000 French Pacific francs [US$103] monthly. This access offers a 256-kilobit per second downloading speed, a 128-kilobit per second uploading speed and a maximum consumption of 12 gigabytes.

The cost of the fourth broadband access, known as "Light", will remain unchanged. This unlimited access costs 4,950 French Pacific francs [US$51] offers a 128-kilobit per second downloading speed, a 64-kilobit per second uploading speed and a maximum consumption of 2 gigabytes.

Vernaudon emphasized the importance of developing both Internet and broadband access in the outer islands. "There is currently a problem of network coverage in the outer islands. So between now and the next one or two months we plan to meet with Intelsat to ask them to increase the current network coverage."

Internet and broadband installations on Tahiti's sister island of Moorea are already functioning. Raiatea and Bora Bora in the Leeward Islands northwest of Tahiti are due to be equipped in May.

February 27, 2006

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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