Orcon Genius underwhelms

20:58, Jul 20 2011

Orcon's new telephone allowing users to get rid of their landline and make calls over the internet isn't as revolutionary as the company is making out, say observers.

Orcon Genius went on sale yesterday. The base calling and data plan costs $70 a month for 30 gigabytes of data and standard calling rates on a 24-month contract. An alternative $70 plan offers 5 gigabytes of data and unlimited national calling.

Customers can use the Genius handset or plug in their own phone. Calls will be made and received as normal, and current phone numbers can be kept.

Independent technology commentator Juha Saarinen said Orcon's offer was "too little, too late". Many households had already ditched their landlines in favour of mobile phones, and required only an internet connection, he said.

Also, Orcon's calling charges on top of the base $70 phone and internet plan, including 19 cents for national calls and 43 cents for calls to mobiles, look expensive. Skype – which allows people to make phone calls and video calls over the internet – was cheaper, he said.

Reaction on website Geekzone was mixed, with people questioning hidden costs such as $10 a month for modem rental, if you don't sign up for the 24-month contract.

Orcon chief executive Scott Bartlett said the Genius was more user friendly than Skype. He said the pricing was highly competitive. "In five years' time there won't be hardly anyone renting a telephone line from Telecom."

He argued the service was $30 to $40 per month cheaper than competitors and was available to 84 per cent of New Zealand's households.