news Tier two national broadband provider Exetel has launched a range of 4G mobile broadband plans with monthly download quota ranging up to 20GB, based on Optus’ new 4G infrastructure located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Newcastle.
The company will offer customers three plans, at $39.95, $59.95 and $79.95 monthly price points and with 10GB, 15GB and 20GB of data quota included. The company is planning to count both uploads and downloads towards the quota, and it is offering free activation (which normally costs $20) when customers pre-order the service before 15 October. The plans were first spotted by Computerworld.
The company will provide customers with a Huawei USB modem to access the services, which offers theoretical download speeds of up to 150Mbps. It also supports the DC-HSPA+ standard which customers can connect to on Optus’ network when outside 4G zones. Exetel will lock customers into a 12 month contract with break fees to connect to the service.
Exetel is only the latest retail telco to launch 4G mobile broadband services off the back of Optus’ 4G network. Rival iiNet also announced recently that it had signed a deal with Optus to start reselling access to the SingTel subsidiary’s 4G mobile broadband network, with services to start “in the coming months”.
Optus recently opened its new 4G network to consumers in Sydney, Perth and Newcastle, with Melbourne launching late last week. The company has some 600 4G towers located around Australia, and has also started selling 4G mobile broadband USB dongles and prepaid devices, along with a popular 4G version of Samsung’s Galaxy S III handset. The network allows theoretical speeds up to 60Mbps, but testing has shown in practice it usually delivers download speeds similar to ADSL2+ broadband, with very good latency.
Other Optus resellers have also reportedly confirmed they will shortly be launching 4G mobile services on the SingTel subsidiary’s new platform. Computerworld reported recently that Virgin Mobile, Amaysim and Boost Mobile were also planning to launch 4G mobile services on the back of the Optus network. Any launch of 4G services by Internode is also likely to be accompanied by a similar launch across the other brands owned by its parent iiNet – Netspace, Westnet, TransACT and so on.
Reselling 4G services through companies such as iiNet, Internode, Exetel, Boost, Amaysim and Virgin may allow Optus to rapidly ramp up the number of customers using its infrastructure. However, even with this number of resellers using its infrastructure, it may prove hard for Optus to catch up to Telstra in terms of pure customer numbers, with Telstra already known to have some 200,000 4G connections signed up and analyst firm Morgan Stanley reportedly believing the company will shortly announce it has half a million 4G subscribers already. It is believed that Telstra does not provide wholesale access to its 4G network, although it has started allowing wholesale access to its 3G network.
It is interesting to see retail ISPs such as Exetel launch 4G mobile broadband services on the back of Optus’ network, but I don’t really think they’re doing so in a very intelligent way so far. Why, for example, didn’t Exetel launch a bundled offer with ADSL2+ broadband and fixed-line telephony? This would seem to be a logical way to lock its customers into its services – if they change one aspect of their bundle, they would need to consider the whole lot etc. I don’t see a lot of people signing up to Exetel’s 4G plans unless it does launch this kind of bundle, even if they are on the cheap side. And so far this kind of limited thinking has also plagued other retail ISPs like iiNet.