Telstra’s NBN plans: Just universally awful

90

opinion Telstra’s National Broadband Network plans released today are the broadband equivalent of Kryptonite. With less choice, less download quotas, less value than any other provider on the market, but for a higher price and with some ludicrous technical decisions thrown in, Telstra’s NBN options do more than stink — they glow with a sickly radioactive foulness and should be avoided at all costs.

So why do Telstra’s NBN plans stink? As a famous romantic once said, let us count the ways. Firstly, let’s look at the issue which most customers will be interested in: Cost. We’ll examine this issue from the perspective of entry-level, mid-range and top-level users.

An entry level broadband user on the NBN will be looking for a broadband plan which offers between 5GB and 20GB of monthly download quota and at an entry level speed, plus a bundled telephone line. If you’re this kind of user, from iiNet you can pick up a 12Mbps plan with 40GB of download quota for $49.95 a month. Bundle in an Internet telephony line for $9.95 a month (which includes all your local and national calls), and you’re looking at $59.90 a month. Optus offers similar pricing — a 120GB plan with home phone and some included calls for $64.94 a month. And you can go even cheaper with cut-rate provider Exetel — $35 a month for a 50GB plan, 12Mbps with a bundled phone line.

What’s Telstra’s entry level plan? $80 a month, for a 5GB, 25Mbps plan with a bundled phone line and unlimited local calls. Yup, that’s right — $20 a month more, for a plan with a tiny amount of quota. Now, to be fair, the company does offer a $90 monthly plan with 200GB of quota and the same bundled telephone line, which is a lot more decent. But it remains a fact that entry level broadband users don’t want to spend $90 a month on telecommunications. In fact, they don’t want to spend $80. And why should they, when they can spend $35 a month (plus phone calls) from Exetel?

At the high-end, the situation is similar. If you want more than 200GB of monthly quota, with Telstra you’ll be paying a minimum of $121.90 per month, either through the stand-alone fixed broadband plans with a bundled full service telephone line, or $130 or $150 a month for bundled plans with 500GB of quota. All of these plans come with speeds of 100Mbps. In comparison, iiNet offers a terabyte, 100Mbps plan plus a telephone line for $109.90 a month, and Optus’ 500GB, 100Mbps plan with similar calling value undercuts Telstra’s top plan by $21 a month. Exetel’s top-end plan is a 300GB/100Mbps offering for just $70.

It’s only when you come to Telstra’s mid-level plans that customers get a glimmering of competitiveness. With iiNet you can get a 200GB, 100Mbps monthly plan with a bundled line for $89.90 per month, and a similar A similar plan through Telstra will cost you $100 (you get calls to mobiles included, instead of STD). So the two are comparable at that level, and things aren’t too different when you look at Optus. Exetel, of course, is always going to be cheaper.

Morale of this story? At the low-end and the high-end, you’ll be paying more each month if you sign up for the NBN for Telstra — usually $20 or more per month. And you’ll usually be getting a plan with smaller included quota than you could get for a cheaper price elsewhere.

Now we turn to non-pricing aspects of Telstra’s plans. It’s here that some of the ridiculous technical loopholes which Telstra is going to force its early NBN customers through become apparent.

Firstly, and most importantly, it’s important to note something up front which will affect all of Telstra’s initial customers on the NBN — the need to bundle copper telephone lines with your fibre connection. And yes, that is absolutely right — I did say copper.

By definition, all telephone services over the National Broadband Network will be next-generation Internet telephony services. Instead of your voice being transmitted in an analogue fashion down copper wires, the audio will be converted into a digital signal and sent over the Internet. However, for its early NBN customers, Telstra has chosen not to provide voice services over the NBN. Instead, as the Sydney Morning Herald chronicles in a puzzled-sounding article on the topic, all Telstra voice services over the NBN will initially require a bundled copper telephone line.

Read that sentence again and take it in: All Telstra voice services over the NBN will initially require a bundled copper telephone line.

Telstra executive director of customer service, Peter Jamieson, told the SMH: “Copper services will still be available in NBN areas for some time to come. Telstra will activate voice services on NBN once copper is decommissioned.”

Frankly, this is one of the most stunningly ludicrous technical decisions which I have ever been witness to in the past decade in which I have been writing about technology. Whoever made this decision at Telstra needs to be taken out into the back paddock and shot. Copper telephony services, when there’s a fibre connection to people’s houses? What a nightmarish joke. Only someone from Telstra could have come up with that one. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so tragically ridiculous.

Now, recognising that Internet telephony cost less than traditional PSTN telephone lines, Australian ISPs have long priced such services much more cheaply — for example, iiNet offers a standard $9.95 Internet telephony line, compared to traditional telephone lines, which can range up to $30 or more in line rental. However, because Telstra is still using its copper lines for NBN customers, it won’t be changing its telephone line rental prices to reflect this new pricing. Instead, Telstra line rental in an NBN world will cost the same as it did in a copper network world. And this can be pricey — up to $31.95 for a full service line.

And you will be using Telstra’s copper. Several of the other ISPs to have offered NBN pricing plans so far have also given customers the choice of whether they want a telephone line or not — in what are known as ‘naked’ broadband plans. With Telstra, however, you have no choice. If you sign up to an NBN plan through Telstra, you will be receiving a fixed telephone line and paying for it — whether you want one or not. Under its current plan structure, Telstra will not offer ‘naked’ NBN.

But wait — it gets worse.

When it comes to entertainment available over the Internet, Telstra has also hobbled its customers. Where companies like iiNet (including its Internode brand) and Optus will offer customers IPTV services over the NBN through their FetchTV service, Telstra today launched a range of plans which offer customers access to the Foxtel IPTV service it part-owns — but only if they have access to both the NBN and live in an area served by the existing Foxtel cable.

That’s right. If you want the full Foxtel experience on the NBN, you have to sign up for a package and get the existing HFC cable connected to your house. That makes three fixed-line connections — fibre, HFC cable and the copper telephony network — from the same provider, Telstra. All of this could be provided through the same NBN fibre cable, if Telstra was technically competent. But it appears that Telstra is not.

Now we should be fair: Telstra will also allow NBN customers to sign up to use its T-Box television set-top box over the NBN, for an additional cost per month. And a subsection of Foxtel is available through the T-Box. This solution does give customers a comparable IPTV experience to customers using FetchTV on other providers — and we’d argue that the T-Box beats FetchTV hands-down. However, not offering the full suite of Foxtel services directly through the NBN is still an oversight by Telstra. It’s services like this that the NBN is fundamentally being built for. And forcing customers to run three separate cables into their house for three separate sets of telecommunications services is simply a bad joke.

There are also other aspects to Telstra’s NBN services which are troubling.

All of the other ISPs to have offered NBN pricing plans so far have given customers the choice of four speed tiers — 12Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps — at various pricing points, and with different quota packages according to customers’ needs. Telstra has given customers the choice of just two speeds tiers — 25Mbps and 100Mbps, in what appeared to be a foolhardy attempt to harmonise its NBN plans with its ADSL and HFC cable plans.

To my mind, this is simply asinine. The copper, HFC cable and fibre NBN networks are technically different, and offer different speeds and capabilities. Why should Telstra limit the speeds which customers can choose over the NBN, simply because other customers can access other networks? This is the kind of ridiculous artificial technical decisions which uninformed pricing droids make when they get more power than they should at massive corporations like Telstra. Why limit the technical capabilities of a network, for marketing reasons? It makes no sense at all.

Now, you can see why Telstra has made some of these decisions. The NBN is at an early stage, and with only a few thousand people having access to its infrastructure, it makes sense in one view for Telstra to create as little disruption as possible to those customers through continuing to use its own infrastructure as much as possible. However, by doing so, the company is also holding its customers back and making them pay more for services which have already been superceded by rival companies. And that’s never a good approach.

Telstra has also stumbled on another front: Mobile bundling. Sign up for mobile broadband with a company like iiNet (although it doesn’t own its mobile network, instead piggybacking on that of Optus), and you’ll get a discount off your broadband bill. Optus offers similar mobile ‘bundles’ which see mobile phone services packaged with fixed broadband connections.

But not so Telstra. Although the telco operates the nation’s best mobile network (Next G), its site doesn’t make any mention of any ability to bundle mobile and fixed services together on the NBN, although it does allow such bundling on its other networks. You can get them on the same bill — but it doesn’t look like you get any sort of discount for buying the different types of services from the same telco. From my perspective this is just crazy. Why wouldn’t Telstra want to lock its customers in to buying more services from it, through discounting? It’s reverse logic at its worst.

Have I done enough yet to demonstrate that Telstra’s NBN plans stink? I hope so. Over the top pricing, a lack of options compared with other ISPs, and some simply ludicrous technical decisions which show just how far behind its rivals Telstra is when it comes to developing its offerings for the NBN. The telco’s current NBN offerings simply stink; and are best avoided. Of course, the plans released today are simply the earliest iterations of Telstra’s NBN plans, and I’m sure they will be modified over time. They had better be.

90 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t understand why Telstra don’t want my money… meh guess I’ll just continue giving it to iiNet when NBN rolls around here.

      • It’s quite canny on Telstra’s part really, if a bit cynical.

        I mean, if you haven’t found a better deal than Telstra already, then there’s a good chance that you won’t care about this being a lousy deal as well.

  2. How people forgotten internode first nbn prices

    At the moment telstra is tied and the competition like internode and iinet will complain to the accc if telstra puts cheaper prices out now, while they havent got the go ahead for structurally separated

    • Internode’s initial pricing was based on the wholesale pricing model released by NBNCo at the time, specifically with respect to how many POPs they had to buy bandwidth at. Internode (and others) lobbied pretty hard to get this changed and it worked. Internode are one of the fairest companies out there and are quire transparent in what they do. They’re never the cheapest, but they’re not trying to be. And they’re spending the extra you pay on technical stuff to improve your service, not marketing. Hopefully the iiNet buy-out/merger doesn’t screw then too badly ;-)

    • No they won’t. Internode, iiNet, TPG, etc did not complain to the ACCC merely because Telstra lowered its retail price. They complained because Telstra (via Bigpond) was selling retail plans to the public cheaper than they were selling wholesale plans to them. ie, Telstra attempted to use its wholesale division to give an unfair advantage to its own retail division to drive the competitors out of a segment of the market.

      Obviously that complaint had merit, since the ACCC (as an impartial adjudicator) upheld the complaint and decided to declare ADSL services.

      However in this case, since Telstra will not be the sole wholesaler/aggregator on the NBN, they do not have the monopoly power to abuse. Therefore its competitors won’t have any complaints even if Telstra decided to sell all their services at a loss.

      • Exactly AustCC.

        For years we have heard the excuses coming from Telstra stakeholders saying things like, Telstra aren’t allowed to be competitive. Which is true to a point (although they could equal or come very close to their wholsalers).

        But what’s the excuse now?

        Perhaps it’s time to revert to the ‘premium angle’ again.

      • I wonder just how little it costs Telstra to run it’s DSLAMs, the plans are higher than their ADSL2 plans, yet the cost (price from NBN Co for access and CVC) are lower than what Telstra charges. What they charged was meant to be close to cost. To justify the increase in extra costs alone the ADSL2 wholesale they charge $32 for I think must cost closer to around $10.

  3. For a company that employs some hard-headed negotiators, these plans represent a lot of legacy baggage.

    It seems that the rationale for harmonising pricing across NBN, ADSL and HFC connections is to enable a smooth and seamless transition to the NBN. This was discussed some while back – this is where providers intend to offer the exact same price to ease migration. People will accept this much more easily if they pay the exact same amount for the new NBN-based service as the old ADSL or HFC service (even if they could actually save money going elsewhere).

    I think there’s a psychological thing applying that if you change one thing (the delivery mechanism), you keep everything else absolutely the same. Perversely, if you were to lower prices, it makes people suspicious that they might be getting diddled in some other way. And if you raise them… well, that’s tabloid scaremongering territory!

  4. Telstra are just another Kodak.
    A lumbering giant too lazy to change as long as they ignorantly think the money will keep rolling in until it’s too late.
    R.I.P. Telstra, it was (not) nice knowing you!

  5. Telstra’s copper decision is all about “owning the customer” – if the Coalition wins, they will cancel the NBN – and then Telstra still “owns the customer”

    • More then that- its about they money they will be paid to transfer the customers, the agreement for which is not yet ratified :).

  6. 100% agree that the lack of a “broadband only” service is the most stupid bit of marketing yet devised, but can only guess it is aimed and targeted at those ignorant of how the NBN works.

    They have been doing it for years and years so I guess nothing much changes. Leopards and spots and all of that.

    However, you made one glaring omission from your critique.

    Telstra is going to charge you $329 for the installation of their service….and there doesn’t appear any way to avoid it. The $329 is for a basic installation and may cost more for more “complex” offerings!!!

  7. numero uno:

    until the nbn is finish building god knows when since the coalition will kick juliar’s butt in 2013 and can the nbn, telstra USO is still very much in place for the foreseeable future. every house already has a working copper line passing by capable of providing excellent zero latency voice service. until all these big issues are resolved (completion of nbn, certainty of roll-out, elimination of copper USO), why should telstra bother spending money setting up residential voip over nbn when copper voice infrastructure already setup and working just fine? unlike other isps, it doesn’t cost telstra anything to provide copper voice and it works just fine. smart business decision.

    numero duo:

    re. foxtel, same story as above. for houses with hfc passing by, telstra owns the hfc and the cost of streaming foxtel over telstra hfc is a known known and is controlled by telstra. why offer foxtel prematurely over nbn when even nbnco doesnt know how much it will charge in the longrun for multicasting and there is zero pricing commitment in SAU for multicasting? again no-brainer smart commercial decision for telstra to use its own existing infrastructure which is working fine for foxtel. why negotiate foxtel exemption for hfc shutdown if not planning to use it? who knows nbn could be bloody expensive for multicasting when nbnco finally makes up its mind.

    numero trio:

    telstra’s plans actually make more sense than other isps. when the nbn was first announced, the initial entry level speed was supposed to be 25mbit. then quigley change his mind and lowered it to 12mbit. aside from this, the whole point of brand new fibre network is to have faster speeds than adsl. so the lowest fibre speed should be no lower than the top adsl2 speed of 24mbit. otherwise why bother building fibre nbn??? also, for most people, they just have no way of appreciating difference btw 12mbit and 25mbit or 25mbit and 50mbit. absolutely no need for high level of granularity, better to simplify the speeds into 25mbit and 100mbit and not confuse the customers. you must be doing some sort of specialised application if you require to finetune your peak speed internet connection more than that.

    also, notice how the quotas for 100mbits are higher than quotas for 25mbit. there’s no point in having 100mbit if you are restricted in download quota. i’m glad telstra doesnt have other isps’ silly plans of offering 30GB for 12mbit and also offering similar shitty amount of 30GB for 100mbit. tells me they dont know what they are doing, and so offering scattergun approach of full matrix mix-and-match speed with quota. unlike them, telstra has a clear vision and strategy of what quotas you need to use 100mbit port meaningfully.

    hokay guys, continue your telstra bashing…

      • Actually, there are some good points there. Telstra is a great behemoth deserving of being ridiculed, but there is still quite a few reasons to keep the copper networks in place. I envy the bean counters at NBN, they have hit a bottomless taxpayer funded honeypot, the NBN is going to cost several orders of magnitude more than is anticipated.

        Who’s going to replace all the systems dependant on the PSTN network? Security alarms, medical alarms, paging systems, automation systems, etc. Many of these dont work on next gen digital systems, even with super special fandangled PBX systems. Try explaining that to a customer who believed the VoIP salesman.

        As hard as it is to believe, the PSTN network actually has amazing robustness and reliability.

        • My understanding is that while VoIP may break some legacy systems, the voice service through the UNI-V port (if offered by the RSP) is an essentially transparent PSTN emulation, which should work with most if not all legacy systems like alarm or home monitoring systems.

          The estimable Simon Hackett gives further (technical) explanation here – search for his name on the page or just scroll down:
          http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1818292

    • So basically you’re saying Telstra’s thoughts are “who knows what’ll happen with the NBN after 2013, it’ll probably get canned. So let’s just concentrate on keeping the customers we have, not bother attracting any new ones whatsoever, and hope everything goes back exactly as it was post-2013.”

      Riiiiiiight.

    • @Tyler Durden – “Juliar”, very inventive; I see what you did there. You should suggest that one to Alan Jones.

      About your Numero Trio, you seem to be saying that Telstra has our needs at heart when it chose the speeds and quotas for its plans. This sounds kind of sensible – those who want 100MBit/sec downloads surely want more quota than a 25MBit/sec. That is, except that the 25Mbit base quota of 5GB represents a whopping 28 MINUTES of full speed downloading. For a month. So much more balanced than offering that quota on a 12MBit plan, which would take an unbearable HOUR to exhaust the download quota for a month.

      You find 30GB over 12Mbit silly, but 5GB over 25Mbit to be a balanced plan? Talk about straining at gnats… compared to the 3G broadband or 1Mbit/sec flaky wireless ISP that I have access to now, living 50km south of Canberra, 30GB at 12MBit/sec would be a massive improvement.

      This is the last straw for me and Telstra; they are clearly counting on the NBN being killed or castrated by the Coalition in the coming years, and if that is the case, I’m unwilling to support them in any way. Time to see if any fixed wireless telephone plans are finally available where I live; it’s not like FTTN is ever going to do anything here, not when they’d have to lay kilometres of cable to get around the pair gain mess that passes for the last mile POTS network out here.

  8. Is this the pricing model that will be used for rural people on wireless/satellite?

    Also, let’s not forget that iinet offer on/offpeak quota. It makes it cheaper, tho’ it still leaves Telstra being a little too expensive.

    • For any other RSP, you could be justified in thinking that the satellite and fixed wireless offerings might be the same as their entry-level 12/1 prices – from the RSP’s perspective, they look the same. NBN Co makes the technology transparent: you connect to the POI, and no matter which one of the three technologies NBN Co happens to use to get to that point, they charge the same wholesale price – therefore the base costs incurred by the RSP would be the same.

  9. Renai, I think you are being a bit harsh on Telstra with respect to not offering the whole suite of Foxtel through the NBN. As far as I know NBN Co have not commercially released the Multicast service or TC-2 QoS level that is recommended for streaming video over the NBN.

    As these plans come into effect almost immediately any Foxtel over NBN service would be “best effort” only which could be inconsistent and unreliable. The amount of CVC necessary to provide an individual stream to each end user could also become cost prohibitive without the ability to use the Multicast service.

    If Telstra don’t offer a full Foxtel experience over the NBN after NBN Co releases Multicast and TC-2 then I would agree with your comments but until NBN Co provide the services to enable consistent high quality video services I wouldn’t put the blame on Telstra for not providing them.

  10. Telstra used to be competitive like other ISPs, but then they took an NBN to the knee.

    (I’m sorry I just couldn’t resist)

  11. This points out as plain as day that Telstra aren’t serious about the NBN at this stage. Those quotas are an absolute joke! Where the hell is that $13 billion dollars going again? (I know..I know.. I’m being facetious). However I expected that money to at least partially reduce their retail pricing, to make them at least as competitive as smaller players with higher operational costs. However as usual Telstra take the greedy “we get away with it because we can” approach. They are supposed to be encouraging people to jump to fibre. Not turn them away!

    They are so inflated that it appears they’ve based their plans on Labor’s leadership spill. i.e. assuming Labor will be defeated at the next Federal election so not giving a shit how bad their plans are in the interim.

    F**k you Telstra. Really.

  12. Goodbye Copper Voice service. $30 less I’m sending to Telstra via Internode. $30 I can send to Internode to pay for the NBN.

  13. This is Telstra betting on Tony Abbott at the next election. NBN may be rolled out in a few places, but nobody will maintain it. Telstra retains its wires. Telstra not only gets a Labor government payout for retiring its lines, it gets a Liberal government telling them they’re back in business and ripe to make a killing.

    From Telstra’s perspective, it’s sensible business – profits either way, and a killing if Abbott comes in. From the consumer’s perspective, it stinks.

    • Agree Stephen.

      But to go further, it’s not evenTelstra being Telstra per se`, it’s a business simply being a business. They do what they can to make money, period.

      So do we really want our nations telecommunications back in the hands of such a business, purely because of politically conservative dogma?

    • The retaining of copper wire service is a bit of a furphy – under the NBNCo-Telstra agreement (due to be ratified following the ACCC approval of structural separation in the next week or two) Telstra has agreed to remove the copper wiring and fully migrate its phone and HFC broadband services once certain conditions have been met in a given geographical area. It’s not optional – it’s a binding term of the contract.

      The terms just released today relate to areas BEFORE this takes effect. Which will be most of them by late 2013 – the copper disconnection will not have progressed an enormous extent by then.

    • “This is Telstra betting on Tony Abbott at the next election”

      Except that I don’t think there’s any way for the Coalition to actually stop the NBN from a financial point of view.
      Regardless of the continuing contracts (and penalties that would need to be eaten), once the NBN is stopped (even if it’s for a day), the investment reverts to an expense…
      This means that all investment payments (for the life of the whole project) instantly show up on the books as an expense to the budget. We’re talking a minimum of $9-15 Billion in instant red ink!
      And that’s not counting the contract red ink either…
      I don’t see how Tony can actually do it without castrating all of his own budget ideas…

      This is not to mention that allof the polls show that even his own party members want the NBN to continue…

      I think that stopping the NBN gets him nothing at all, while putting a HUGE bite in the rest of his agenda…he just won’t do it. What’s one more broken promise? He will just blame it on Labor…

  14. ‘Tis a fun time to be working in Telstra retail.

    This coincides with a ‘revamp’ of their phone/Internet/Foxtel bundles, released tomorrow. I say that with inverted commas, because I don’t see a massive improvement in terms of value for money. Until I see different, it’s a tough one to sell. Add to that pricey Foxtel, and Foxtel on T-Box, things get pretty expensive. And no, there doesn’t appear to be plans to have discounts for mobile plans on same bills as home bundles – but there is a return of “Family Calls Bonus”, which makes calls between home and mobile you nominate free.

    To be fair to Telstra, I dare say the reason they still have to put Foxtel on a HFC or satellite and not over the NBN, is because of the many and varied licensing and contracting arrangements between Telstra, Foxtel and Austar. Sure, Telstra may be taking the easy option (and the greedy option), but I dare say they just can’t supply it that way at the moment. Of course, that’s just pure speculation on my end ;)

  15. Do you think its possible that they’ve attempted to create a double-dipping scenario?

    My logical thinking is that they’re attempting to resign customers to copper, knowing they’re being paid for their customers being transferred – but if they resign them – its possible that they’d be paid twice without government oversight realising.

    It cant be anymore than that

  16. Is anybody really that surprised that Telstra pull a massive dick move aka a TANTRUM once their monopoly has been ended?

    • I wouldn’t say surprise, but Telstra never cease to amaze me with their marketplace arrogance and contempt for customers. They represent exactly the type of broadband future we don’t want. Hence my desire for a fair and workable wholesale monopoly under NBNCo.

  17. These plans almost look tailor-made to give ammunition to the Opposition. Who will possibly reinstate their monopoly if elected. Hmmm.

    • I was thinking this, The coalition will provide this stupidity as proof the NBN is killing competition.

      You know because ISP’s are tripping over themselves to provide ADSL 1 / 2+ here.

      It does seem Telstra is betting on an NBN fail.

      Why?

      If it does fail and the coalition does FTTN, who stand to profit? not the consumer, not even the government, that’s right Telstra. Not only does Telstra get handed money to use the copper as a ongoing charge but they also will likely get a payout for structural separation and the decommissioning of whatever segments of copper are decommissioned. Telstra being greedy, as usual.

      If the NBN does continue shockingly Telstra will have to be competitive to retain customers rather than relying on a vertically integrated monopoly.

      • Don’t forget too Tim, what are the opposition’s plans for the existing NBN, once elected?

        I believe Malcolm has indicated that they will simply put a bow on it and give it to Telstra (oops he means any prospective company… BUT Telstra are in a strong position to be that company…sigh). Add that to FTTN needing Telstra’s copper… and the plan to utilise existing HFC (owned by Optus and you guessed it, Telstra). Plus of course all those nice matesy subsidies.

        And the critics have the audacity to suggest the current NBN uncompetitive?

  18. You realise that the plans you’re so candidly marketing as NBN are the same for all Telstra’s copper customers as well?

  19. Hi Renai – there’s a typo in the article: “morale of the story” should be moral. Though the story has deflated my morale…

  20. Telstra you smell. Your plan’s smell like stinky big fat poopies. You stink. the really smellay farty stinky type of stink like a soiled anppy from a milk fed 6 month old…green slimy and stinky. Very stinky poopie.

    Ewww

  21. The solution is simple – dump Telstra and go to Optus, the “anti-Demetriou” company.

    Compare Telstra to other telcos now and you will see that Telstra charge much higher prices for broadband.
    A friend recently switched from Telstra to the Optus “Over 50” plan and today she pays $50 for 5 GB and home phone with all local and national calls included.
    She was previously on Telstra paying $80 for 2GB and home phone (an old plan).

    Before switching she compared the Optus plan to what a similar plan at Telstra would cost and it was $68.

  22. You should check out Telstra’s new crappy bundles.
    http://www.telstra.com.au/bundle-save/index.cfm?red=/bundles

    Some plans charge 50 cents for a local call.

    50c Per Local Call
    50c /min + 50c Flagfall National Calls
    Line rental
    Calling number display
    MessageBank®
    Family Calls Benefit2
    50c /min + 50c flagfall to Telstra mobiles
    Standard international Rates
    50c /min + 50c flagfall to Australian mobiles

    I think Voip is the best answer.

  23. The one small advantage (and I mean very small), with keeping the copper pair for a standard telephone service, is the customers telephone will keep working in a power outage. I know the NBN units are supposed to have backup batteries, but how long with they last in an extended outage?
    That said, most people have cordless phones, which won’t work without power, and almost all households will have at least 1 mobile phone. So this is hardly a justification for keeping the copper on its own. But just thought I would mention it.

    • from memory the standard battery NBNco will supply was supposed to be good for 4 or 5 hours. it doesnt automatically come on, you hit a switch to use it so as long as you arent talking for hours and you toggle it on only as you need it it should last for a fair break in power service. i also suspect like plenty of other consumer electronics devices it will be possible to use a higher rated battery so it will last even longer.

      so i have to say its not really an issue and that Telstra are just being prats like usual again. that or management is such a shambles that while they have the top line on paper agreements for NBN knocked out actual internal structures are lacking. they say the plans are out for comment and they likely will be tweaked? i would strongly suggest sooner rather than later.

  24. What’s the problem here? If Telstra offer a poor deal market forces will come into play and address the situation. Renai why do you need to (try to) display your immense knowledge of the situation when with the new level playing field all players are at liberty compete as they see fit. The Anti Telstra Brigade have for years called for open competition why should they complain if Telstra offers more expensive deals. If as is being suggested Telstra is so anti competitive how come they are the market leaders????

    • “What’s the problem here?”

      Why do you assume that there’s a problem? It is a fascinating bit of screw-up on Telstra’s part, and I for one am riveted!
      Did you expect that with a screw-up this big at a company with Telstra’s branding and size, Renai would NOT comment??? It’s his job!

      I agree with you though that unless they make a drastic change, market forces will shred Telstra’s entrance into the NBN…and those customers are hard to win back.

      • BTW, is anybody else besides me thinking of dumping Telstra shares? I wonder how big the market reaction will be?

    • “how come they are the market leaders????”

      Telstra are no longer market leaders. They are not even followers, with these plans they are just a lump of dirt everyone should ignore.

  25. As a resident in a capital city, who can only get services through the telstra network or wholesale through the telstra network, ie no naked DSL, until recently no ADSL2 either, this just makes me want the NBN more, so I can have a choice. The average consumer of course thinks, they get choiuce by choosing an ISP, but Telstra do their best to control it as much as they can.

    Telstra are kind of like the big banks and Harvey Norman, for some reason people will still overpay for their services. I have to admit i have a Telstra mobile though, but their 3G coverage is superior and mobile plans are generally reasonably competitive, although surpirse surprise, Telstras data plans have not been the best.

    I’m hoping by nthe time the election rolls on, if the coalition gets in, they’ll make some statement like, “we’ll keep the NBN, but fix up the mismanagement and over expenditure” eg politician speak for, we were in favour of it but was using it to try and win votes.

  26. Consider this… Telstra ADSL2+ bundled customer migrates to Telstra’s NBN Co offering. 18 months after their region was established Telstra turn off the local copper whilst leaving the infrastructure idle in the ground and migrates their “landlines” onto The Network. Then the Coalition gets into power and cancels NBN Co. What do you think Telstra will do to such “landlines”? Unless the federal government takes ownership of the copper network, I predict Telstra will turn it back on and un-migrate their customers. Telstra’s copper is a cheap network that works for which they don’t pay NBN Co rental to access. Voices on NBN Co will always be a very tiny earner.

    • Once the Telstra-NBNCo infrastructure agreement is in place that would be very difficult as the copper lead in from the street to the house will be removed by NBNCo & replaced with the new fibre lead in.

      Thats what this is about- Telstra won’t use Voice over NBNCo until the infrastructure agreement (and payments to Telstra in entails) are signed off.

      • Yer, I just heard Conroy state that copper will be ripped up. Disappointing not to have a back-up system. What’s the price of copper these days?

        • gone up along with the other metals as of the last few years, i think. always in demand for the semicon industry etc etc. id be amazed if the stuff is not ultimately recovered.

  27. And another thing, allow me to be an alarmist… Copper needs to be maintained for national security reasons. NBN Co links all telco services to the internet. What if the internet suffers a major cyber attack? What if the US President signs an order to shut down the internet? What if a natural disaster cuts off electricity for an extended period of time in a region? etc etc. The copper network is dynamic enough to ensure continuance of a landline voice service. Can the NBN Co network claim the same?

    • You need to read up more on how NBNCo is designed- voice services delivered to the analogue voice ports on the NTU do not travel over the internet in any way.

      Secondly, the US president shutting down the Internet in the US (the extent of their jurisdiction) would have ZERO impact on Australian services. Sure, any website hosted in the US would stop working but anything hosted in Australia (or elsewhere in the world) would be unaffected.

      • “Secondly, the US president shutting down the Internet in the US (the extent of their jurisdiction) would have ZERO impact on Australian services. ”

        i wouldn’t be so sure about the ZERO part. Just because they have no legal juristiction hasn’t prevented the USA from getting their way a number of times recently.

        • If the USA cut off their part of the internet there would hardly be zero impact. It would cripple most of the domain name system and any services that depended on it. Domains with *.au would remain unaffected as we have our own root server for that, but .com, .net etc addresses would be unusable. When the international links for Telstra stopped working in the early hours a few years back we experienced just that problem. Australian .au website etc domains and email worked perfectly but everything with .com or .net fell over because all the primary root servers are overseas and those domains are controlled now by the US Government.

          • In the context of the comment I was replying too, zero impact is correct- voice services on the NBN will not be impacted in the slightest by anything the US government (or any other foreign government) decided to do with the Internet in their jurisdiction.

            As for .com/.net/.org TLDs these would be affected to a degree. Root servers are pretty spread out, so taking out the US would not immediately impact them. They couldn’t be renewed tho. If the US deliberately (via ICANN) removed the namespace that would be different but honestly we discussing a set of circumstances so unlikely we might as well discuss the US bombing Sydney. In the real world, zero chance of any of that sort of doomsday scenario.

            The US trying to apply addition copyright protection via a variety of stealthy & not so stealthy means- sure.

  28. I’m not sure what the problem is here…

    This is what most of you wanted, the NBN comes along and people have choice. Telstra can offer whatever it likes and the customer can make up their mind regarding value and vote with their wallet.

    Are some of the plans and conditions gouging and punitive? Yep. Will people make bad choices? Of course.

    Is there really anything to complain about given that when the NBN arrives you can choose to not be with Telstra..?

  29. An eventual hybrid duopoly will be formed: wireless versus NBN Co. It will be several wireless companies versus several NBN Co resellers. 4G needs implementation (with 5G planning) and consolidation of NBN Co resellers. Give it 10 to 15 years for this.

  30. Let’s not forget, the NBN was supposed to eliminate quotas, speed restrictions and shaping. These were some of the arguments used to justify building it.

    • Well actually the NBN was meant to really take over the aging copper and offer higher speeds to the consumer. There really wasn’t any real intention to remove quota’s and some speed restrictions completely.

        • Saying things like Comrade Conroy, Mr Rabbit or whatever, doesn’t help ones cause of arguing as a rational non aligned poster?

          It really just shows one’s prejudices and preconceptions, which pretty well makes the rest of what one says inconsequential, from my and I’m sure others perspective.

          • As if I had any hope of changing anything to start with. This is a forum, I’ll say what I like. Comrade Conroy is an ignorant buffoon.

          • You can say what you like, as long as it is within the boundaries of the comments policy.

            so Conroy may indeed be an ignorant buffoon and he is ‘obviously’ not alone ;-)

  31. Yep. Telstra’s NBN plans stink alright, but here are a couple of considerations …

    Telstra might want to keep the copper services active for when the ALP loses the next election and the NBN roll out is scrapped. It gives Telstra more options on what to do from there.

    Foxtel will have to use satellite if it wants to reach those premises that will not get NBN fibre. Those satellites can also serve the premises that do get NBN fibre. Why would Foxtel broadcast over the NBN?

    If Foxtel doesn’t broadcast over the NBN then Telstra can’t sell Foxtel over the NBN.

  32. Clearly Telstra are more concerned about leaching customers from their existing fixed line and other businesses to the NBN than they are about losing customers to NBN competitors. If they can retain customers, or get existing customers to pay high prices for the NBN they retain their revenue stream.

    They’ve demonstrated this behaviour before when their ADSL pricing was much worse than competitors. The think they have the marketing clout and customer relationship to hang on to most customers at this price point. Time will tell.

    They’ll only roll out lower pricing when it’s clear market share is at risk. Meanwhile they’ll take the money.

    I can already imagine the FUD in their advertisments, particularly about retaining the copper for “safety” reasons.

  33. Telstra is justified in insisting that customers keep their fixef phone lines for the moment. The real headline is that they are hiking up call costs by as much as double, even more on the $100 plan for STD calls.

    There are two good reasons why Telstra insists that customers have a fixed line. First of all, Telstra doesn’t offer Voice over IP. Second of all, the NBN hasn’t activated its voice ports yet. While the likes of iiNet offer voice over IP for under $10, this won’t be much use when the power goes out or in an emergency.

    However, the real story is the price hikes on many calls compared to the old bundles and even the unbundled plans. For example, the old $78 bundle used to include Homeline budget with 30c local calls and 25c/min STDcalls. Now, the $90 bundle has local calls at 50c and STD calls at 50c a minute. Homeline budget calls remain at 30c local calls and 25c/min for STD calls, for now. Meanwhile the $100 bundle has done away with $1 fixed price STD calls and replaced them with 30c/min calls, compared to the unbundled price of 20c/min on Homeline Plus and $1 fixed price on Homeline Reach.

    Telstra has reduced the price of mobile calls on the new bundles from 36c/min on the old bundles to 30c/min on the new ones and gives free Telstra mobile calls on the $100 bundle compared to 30c/min on the $98 old bundles.

    • Liron, you’re incorrect in claiming that Telstra doesn’t do VoIP. Their NBN customers using digital voice services (i.e. those without an existing copper service in greenfield areas) will use voice port 1 of the BigPond Velocity Home Network Gateway (if you bothered to read the provided user guide documentation) which is indeed a VoIP service. They have no choice but to do this at the moment until NBNCo activates the UNI-V ports on the NBN NTU.
      Unlike the UNI-V ports on the NBN NTU which have backup power protection if a battery is installed in the power supply unit, the voice port on the BigPond Home Network Gateway does not have battery backup.
      If you’re concerned about power failure then do the sensible thing and connect the NBN NTU, the router and any other VoIP equipment to a UPS. It’s not rocket science.

      • OK. I stand corrected about Telstra and VOIP.

        I also need to make another correction. The problenm is that Telsta’s bundles is that once the NBN’s voice port is connected, you will get a VOIP service yet you’ll be paying fixed line prices for the rest of your contract, both for the line rental and the voice calls! 50c a minute y’all!*

        * on the $90 bundle.

        Then they’ll probably introduce cheaper bundles that fix this, but only if you get locked into Telstra for another two years.

  34. Do NBN units have back up power does anyone know? If you get a power cut on the main power grid you cannot make calls through optical fibre without this backup power. Telephones through the copper network are powered by a small potential difference carried across those two wires (I think) on that same physical connection, a source which is to some extent independent of the national grid power and often are still available during a power cut. So they do provide better availability. and there are likely to be accidents during power cuts which arguably heightens the need for this alternative source. accepted mobiles are battery powered so there are often other options fior people in such circumstances but it might be a point of note. I presume other providers will be happy to provide you voice services across the optical fibre? Or is it just Telstra?

    • The NTU can be optioned with a backup battery but does’t have one installed by default. All Retail Service Providers on NBNCo have the option of providing telephone services over the voice ports. Internode already does.

      • Internode is only doing a very limited trial of using the UNI-V ports on the NBN NTU. All other RSP’s at the moment are providing their own VoIP ATA gateways (just like Telstra is doing for the greenfield estates without existing copper by using one of the two voice ports on their home network gateway which does not have battery backup). Until Telstra swaps to using the UNI-V ports the battery in the NTU power supply is completely useless.

    • even having read all this, today we signed with Telstra for a 200GB 100Mbps service bundled with the T-Box. We live in an area affected by cyclones and other extreme weather – last year losing power for almost 2 weeks following TC Yasi – so the idea of maintaining remotely powered copper lines is a major selling point. Given an hour or so the computer battery backups go down, given a day the generators at the mobile towers go offline, thank God (and Telstra) for that old, crappy copper lifeline.

      If you have a Sydney Harbour view naked FO from a cut-price operation might seem great, but in the real world there are more considerations and Telstra continues to provide reliable service.

      • Our old crappy copper Telstra pair gain lifeline fails a number of times every year – and for a while a few years back, whenever it actually rained more than a few millimetres in a day. I’m glad that yours is of use to you, but I can’t count on my copper line POTS to withstand the ravages of time passing, let alone a cyclone… =:^/

  35. Telstra have many small businesses trapped because they use an @bigpond email address. Last year I tried to help someone in this scenario, the best Telstra would do was charge the cheapest ADSL plan ($29.95/month) to simply maintain the email address. Apparently their systems don’t even support migrating an email address from ADSL to NextG.

    Unfortunately I expect Telstra to maintain a significant marketshare after the NBN because of email lock-in.

    • I’m not in the habit of defending Telstra but, again, so what?

      Typically customers would reward bad service by leaving the provider. That people don’t is just a graphic example of the inertia of laziness ie. rather stay put in a crappy situation then expend energy/effort to improve the situation.

      Yes, it’s not convenient but I have little sympathy for those unwilling to help themselves.

  36. Perhaps this decision is related to emergency services and legal obligations that are tied with the UNI-V port. While technically a service provided on the UNI-V port and one provided over the UNI-D and an ATA are very similar as I understand it there are legal differences between the two.

    Currently most VoIP services are effectively exempt from the full legal obligations of a copper line, however the UNI-V service is supposed to be legally equivalent. Telstra probably hasn’t implemented the full back end required at this stage.

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