news National broadband provider iiNet has dumped the idea of separating quota on its ADSL broadband plans into on- and off-peak chunks, but has not extended the same system to its National Broadband Network plans.
For a number of years, iiNet customers have been allocated quotas in two chunks — normal daytime ‘peak’ quota, which can be used during the day and the evening, and off-peak quota, which is typically used in the early hours of the morning. This structure has allowed iiNet to offer its customers more quota overall, while encouraging heavy downloaders to shift their downloads into the early hours of the morning when the ISP’s network may not be as heavily used.
However, in a media release this week, the company announced a switch which gave iiNet, Westnet and Netspace customers, using on-net ADSL2+ or Naked DSL connections, the flexibility to use their data quota any time of the day. The move comes after the company recently introduced so-called “data packs”, which allows customers to pay for ad-hoc increases to their quota without increasing their monthly plan on a permanent basis. Both moves are seen as being ported to iiNet from its subsidiary Internode, which has offered both features for some time and was acquired by iiNet in late December.
According to the media release, iiNet’s recently introduced data packs had been well received by customers as indicated by sales figures. Customers could opt for blocks of data so as not to worry about exceeding their Internet usage limit, especially when they experienced ‘a big month’ with extra Internet usage needs. Data packs for eligible iiNet, Westnet and Netspace customers were available in prices ranging from $10 for 5GB up to $80 for 100GB.
iiNet’s CEO, Michael Malone, said the introduction of anytime quota and data packs would offer flexibility and increased options to customers in their Internet usage plans. Malone said: “I’m really pleased to launch these significant changes to our plans. Both these options have been introduced in response to feedback from our customers. It is very satisfying that we are now in a position to release them to the market.” He observed that the advantages of the company’s increased scale and investment in network were clearly and directly benefiting customers.
However, iiNet has not extended the ‘anytime’ quota system to its National Broadband Network and other fibre-based broadband plans, with the company’s website continuing to state that on- and off-peak quotas applied to those plans. It’s not clear why the differentiation exists in the quota systems between the two different fixed-line broadband technologies. In addition, the quota changes do not appear to yet be reflected in iiNet’s toolbox system, which allows customers to check how much quota they have used on their monthly plan. On- and off-peak divisions still appear in the system.
iiNet supports over 1.7 million broadband, telephony and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) services nationwide. As a publicly listed company, iiNet saw a jump in market share to around 16 percent with the recent acquisitions of TransACT and Internode, increasing its broadband customer base to more than 860,000.
Meanwhile, iiNet subsidiary Internode has reintroduced the 200GB data quota plans to its existing range of entry-level broadband services.
On March 7th, when Internode announced revised broadband plans, it had discontinued the 200GB plan announcing a $10 a month price cut on its popular 300GB data quota plan. However, due to popular demand, the 200GB data quota plan was again added to the current range of entry-level broadband services, priced from $49.95 per month as part of a bundled broadband plan and NodeLine telephone service. This latest move was revealed in a press release dated March 15th, 2012 from Internode.
Internode, therefore, now has four plan tiers, with data quotas of 30GB, 60GB, 200GB and 300GB, each separated by $10-per-month increments. It also offers 600GB and 1200GB data quota plans. Internode Product Manager Jim Kellett said the 200GB tier for Easy Broadband, Easy Bundle and Easy Naked plans was now available for immediate order from its website.
I think it likely that iiNet only has a very small number of NBN fibre and other non-NBN fibre customers, and so simply hasn’t yet got around to introducing the new quotas on those plans yet. When it does so, as I assume it will, that event will significantly enhance the value of its NBN plans, which are already pretty good.
One thing I do wonder this week. Why has it taken iiNet this long to abolish its on- and off-peak quota system and introduce features like data packs? It seems hard to imagine that the acquisition of Internode has already changed its thinking and given it enough network scale that it could introduce these changes, whereas it couldn’t offer them previously. After all, iiNet was already the second-largest ADSL provider in Australia. Surely iiNet could have offered these features previously if it wanted to.
To my mind, the fact that these changes have been introduced now, post the Internode acquisition, highlight the fact that iiNet had become a bit stuck in its thinking before the Internode acquisition. Obviously the Internode and iiNet product teams have gotten together internally and discussed overall pricing and what works and doesn’t work, and the iiNet team was convinced that aspects of Internode’s plans were better than its own. But why couldn’t it have seen this from the outside? Perhaps it wasn’t looking?
It does seem that Internode is much more active in terms of changing its plans whenever it can do so to drive better value to its customers (multiple times per year). In comparison, iiNet very rarely seems to change its broadband plans — being content to leave them at the same level for long periods.