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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Saturday, March 17, 2012 13:26 - 11 Comments

    iiNet dumps off-peak quotas … but not on NBN plans

    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.

    Image credit: Dr Stephen Dann, Creative Commons. Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay

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    1. R
      Posted 17/03/2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink |

      >>Why has it taken iiNet this long to abolish its on- and off-peak quota
      Probably because it offered a great incentive for heavy users to do their downloading at night. Honestly, I’m not sure how they’re planning to compensate for it.

    2. Posted 17/03/2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink |

      Netspace used to offer data packs as well but that feature was lost when they merged with the iiBorg. Was one of the most annoying aspects to discover the feature I was expecting to use was no where to find any more. Having run away from the borg once before when Ozemail was assimilated and I experienced a significant decrease in the network quality, when it came up again I shifted from the assimilated Netspace as well. But the choices for avoiding the borg are now impossible and these days I’m on wireless broadband from Optus or using tethering on my Telstra iPhone out of sheer convenience for travelling and using my fixed WIFI from others (e.g. work, coffee shop, etc).

    3. Posted 17/03/2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink |

      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.

      I know we’re not pretty or anything but are us off-net DSL customers really that forgettable? :/

      • Chucky
        Posted 17/03/2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink |

        Not forgettable, just not financially viable. The fees Telstra Wholesale charge providers are ridiculous.

        • Noddy
          Posted 18/03/2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink |

          Internode offers off-net on Optus too. I don’t know why iiNet did Telstra only. Maybe cheaper prices offered by Telstra with no Optus? I thought the prices were locked now. Can Telstra still make deals for cheaper prices?

    4. Joel Webb
      Posted 17/03/2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink |

      Could just be that they are waiting to drop on/off peak on the NBN plans as a separate ‘announcement’ to drum up the most publicity possible. An NBN related pricing/plan change would be free IINET publicity in the mainstream media.

    5. Duke
      Posted 18/03/2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

      …seems to be lots of ‘bob’bing and weaving at casa MM… boom, boom…

    6. Matt
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink |

      I loved the data packs when i was on internode, its great to see them in iinet.

      Honestly, I believe the Iinet infrastructure can easily handle the abolition of on / off peak times.
      I havent seen any graphs of user usage, but im sure that the iinet execs have.
      They would have gained alot of lovely Internet usage graphs from internode and this would have given the answer to how such a change would affect service

    7. Chris
      Posted 19/03/2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink |

      I saw a post by SH or MM explaining that data packs were being introduced after iiNet looked at data from Internode (presumably related to how customers use them, and whether they’d increase or decrease profits)

      As for not dropping off-peak quotas on NBN, my guess is that’s a symptom of the relatively large CVC cost vs backhaul to their own DSLAMs. Also the relative cost of the CVC vs other network costs. Just a guess though.

    8. Posted 31/03/2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink |

      It should be noted that, while iiNet has dumped off-peak quotas, it only applies to new plans. If you are on a grandfathered plan you will need to change to a new plan to get the anytime quota.

      It should also be noted that the quota of the new plans is smaller than the combined quota of grandfathered plans. By about 33% for the same price.

      Data packs and Anytime quota on the menu for iiNet (Greg Bader, iiNet, 16 March 2012)

      As Chandler commented on the above post:

      …this is awesome stuff, but I don’t want to switch to the current plans – I’m like you on a legacy plan (Naked DSL Home 3 – 75/75GB peak/offpeak), and if I went onto a similar current plan (Naked Home 1 – 100GB anytime), I’d get 33% LESS quota for the SAME PRICE!

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