Exetel prices show up Coalition lies, says Conroy


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has demanded the Opposition admit it has been “misleading” Australians about the end user cost of accessing the National Broadband Network, in the wake of the release of new cut-rate NBN plans by ISP Exetel.

National ISP Exetel late last week published its first commercial prices for services on the National Broadband Network, significantly undercutting previous prices published by rival Internode, with the cheapest option starting at $34.50 a month and the most expensive topping out at $99.50.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had claimed Internode’s plans — which ranged in cost from $59.95 to $189.95 — undercut the rationale for the NBN entirely, as well as Conroy’s credibility. For his own part, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had questioned how many Australians were able to afford “$190 a month for a broadband service that they’re currently getting for about $30 a month”.

However, Conroy yesterday said the Coalition should take back its words.

“As each day passes we are seeing competition in the retail NBN access market drive prices lower. This is great news for internet consumers,” Conroy said, noting that Exetel’s entry-level price was almost half that of Internode’s entry-level plan, and even lower than the sub-$40 package which Dodo is planning to offer.

“It is now time for Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull to stand up and admit they have been deliberately misleading the Australian public about the NBN,” Conroy said.

The Minister added he was looking forward to even more pricing revelations by broadband providers over the coming weeks. In this light, Conroy warned consumers to be wary of “misleading media reports” which he said were not accurately comparing the details of NBN pricing packages.

“In many cases it is extremely difficult to make a proper comparison of packages because the speeds actually being delivered by internet service providers currently using today’s aging copper infrastructure are often well below what they are advertised to be,” Conroy said. “Another thing consumers should be aware of is that some media reports are not including line rental when they quote current internet plan prices, which is approximately $30 on top of the plan cost.

On his blog this morning, Exetel chief John Linton noted that his company had emailed out invitations to its current customers in the early stage NBN rollout zones in Willunga, Armidale and Kiama to take part in a fibre broadband trial over the NBN with Exetel. By Monday morning, about 15 percent of the total eligible customers had responded positively, he said, with Exetel now submitting requests to NBN Co to migrate those customers.

Image credit: kjd, Creative Commons


  1. If they were actually confident that it would be better, cheaper & faster – couldn’t they leave the copper in and let the small companies decide if they wanted to purchase from Telstra or NBN?

    They had to make it a monopoly because without that fact (or with competition) it is no longer viable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to TPG’s unlimited NBN deal (oh, please let there be unlimited plans) but IMO both political sides are being sneaky, deceitful and unhelpful in this ongoing discussion.

    Quigley seems to be OK though – suppose since he doesn’t have a party line to sell.

    • After 10 years of ADSL it’s time to let go of the lucky dip of sync rates and signal to noise ratios as illustrated so succinctly in this heatmap, and something the consumer and ISP has no control over.


      It’s also completely misguided as some have done to automatically add current PSTN line rental prices on top of plans like Exetel to try and make comparisons including voice.

      If anyone doesn’t think there will be a shake up in the voice market they’re deluding themselves.

    • Why are you trying to promote competition in infrastructure? What makes a phone line any different to a power line, water main or a sewer pipe? Hell, we don’t even see competing companies building tollroads next to each other to compete for traffic.

      • are you kidding? without competition you have a situation like america where verizon and AT&T are the sole providers. It drives prices up when a monopoly is held. You cant compare competitive market in telecommunications (where most of it is virtualized competition) against building mass road infrastructure… that just ridiculous.

  2. “Brett Haydon
    Posted 26/07/2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply
    After 10 years of ADSL”

    with respect to your information brett and others, it is over 100 years of copper not ten years.

    it is time for digital infrastructure under the ground to match digital infrastructure above the ground.

    • He said “10 years of ADSL”, not “10 years of copper”.

      The Telstra ADSL network first came online in late 2000 – we have just passed the 10.5 year mark.

  3. “Tony Abbott had questioned how many Australians were able to afford “$190 a month for a broadband service that they’re currently getting for about $30 a month”

    “However, Conroy yesterday said the Coalition should take back its words”

    Please, Tony, prove Conroy wrong and tell us all where we can get 100mb speeds with 1 terrabyte data limits for $30…. Please?

  4. The big question is will we see these cheaper Exetel plans be featured on the 7pm crapfest the way the Internode plans were a few nights ago. I’m guessing they wont. They have to keep up the perception that the NBN will be more expensive.

  5. The big question is why the Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity feels the need to spruik one small discount ISP’s plans to help justify the NBN.

    • Same could be said as to why the Leader of the Opposition has to pinpoint one plan (the $190 plan and totally ignore the cheaper plans) of another RSP and claim that the typical NBN price people will pay… to talk down the NBN and scare average Aussies?

      Thing is, of the two Abbott and Conroy, who was the more honourable…?

    • Internode’s NBN pricing is almost exactly the same, down to the last cent, as their ADSL2+ pricing, for a far superior service (better latency, no longer depending on exchange location to get the speed you’re paying for, plus $10 call credit). For the higher end NBN services in which ADSL2+ cannot even compete with, Internode’s NBN pricing is actually more competitive than their new estates fibre pricing, the top tier plan offering some 800GB more bandwidth for $30 more per month.

      It may not be fair to use “a small discount ISP’s” plans to promote the NBN’s value pricing, but it’s just as unfair to compared one ISP’s ADSL2+ plans with *another* ISPs NBN plans, which is what the media have been doing ever since the Internode pricing was released (and often comparing “one small discount ISPs” ADSL2+ plans with Internode’s NBN plans).

      Internode offers a premium service at a premium price, and that’s their business model, so if you want a fair comparison, compared Internode’s NBN pricing with Internode’s own ADSL2+ plans, and I think you’ll find their NBN plans to be much better value (and one should do the same with Exetel, and I think you’ll find that the NBN plans are, once again, better value than their ADSL2+ plans if you take into account that the NBN plans is a far far superior service for, eventually, 93% of the Australian population, not just those that live *close enough* to the *right* exchange).

    • The big answer is more lies from Abbott and his zoo crew chums = More setting the record straight from Conroy.

      • forget about those Internode/Exetel showpony prices. as Exetel pointed out, NBN end-user pricing will ultimately be determined by Telstra Wholesale and Optus Wholesale package pricing… and that hasn’t been revealed yet.

        what we do know is what Exetel has confirmed to us:

        “Because the monthly port cost of the lowest speed fibre service and the ‘backhaul/CVC’ cost is higher than even Telstra Wholesale charge for an ADSL2 service … and is almost double the cost of an Optus ADSL2 service “

        • “blah blah blah what we do know is what Exetel has confirmed to us more blah blah blah”

          Great. Thanks for “confirming” what we already knew. Even more competition is just around the corner. NBN works on a technical and economical level (unlike the coalitions patchwork plan) = The consumer wins yet again. Bring on the fibre!

  6. +1 Sean…

    And to expand… to compare one small discount ISP who’s ADSL2+ product is NOT readily available to the majority is FUD.

    Yes, the NBN isn’t available Oz wide either, but it will be (unless the opposition get in). So there is no point in me personally comparing an NBN plan to say TPG (as the FUDsters do) because TPG’s ADSL2+/ADSL2+ unlimited IS NOT available to me (I’m on the urban fringe) and probably never will be…

    So, may as well compare the NBN prices to Korea, Japan or wherever, for most of us ‘YES MOST”!…

  7. I think the residences in the limited areas that can actually get the NBN would be well aware which ISP’s have NBN Plans and which ones do not, and can determine for themselves which plans are value and what is not, even to the point that value to them is staying on ADSL until they are forced off or even wireless.

    I think the the fact the NBN Co is not offering voice as yet would put many in holding pattern, so would that fact that Optus and BigPond have yet to announce plans.

    • Ahhh… good old telco contracts… thick as molasses and just as sticky…

      should be interesting to see which (if any) telcos will offer migration for those on long-term contracts – as things stand, looks like a big ‘up yours’ to anyone who happens to be the chum of last minute chrunbaiting into those 12/24 month plans.


  8. FYI:

    If you look at Exetel’s ADSL2+ prices closely, the base package averages $30 /month including line. 20GB peak + 20GB off peak. This is after you take account of the ADSL2+ only ‘6 months free’ offer within the 12 month contract.

    Its actually cheaper than Exetel’s own base NBN $35 /month 20GB plan.

    The gap gets much worse when you compare the 200GB+200GB ADSL2+ plan to 200GB NBN plan
    ($40 ADSL2+ vs $75)

    Looks like NBN is considerably more expensive than Optus DSLAMs to me.

    • That is for select exchanges only. And on naked. I guarantee I cannot get that pricing from them, and many people in Australia are the same due to the lack of investment in exchanges over the years.

      • You are correct. Many people, including many in capital cities (people on a RIM, in new estates, almost the whole of Darwin for example), have no choice but use the Telstra wholesale network. This works out much more expensive than others pay. The NBN removes this gap for 93% of the country and makes it a level playing field. I can admit that some people will be “worse off,” but for the sake of a level playing field the NBN is necessary.

        • * This works out much more expensive than others pay.*

          currently, retail subscribers on “non-Telstra DSLAMs” pay less than those on “Telstra DSLAMs”.

          *The NBN removes this gap for 93% of the country*

          the NBN forces subscribers on cheap “non-Telstra DSLAMs” onto “Telstra DSLAMs” (or the equivalent Telstra Wholesale product on the fibre network). it pushes everyone UP onto a HIGHER cost structure reflecting NBNco’s $50bln build.

          *and makes it a level playing field. I can admit that some people will be “worse off,” but for the sake of a level playing field the NBN is necessary.*

          currently, the ADSL broadband market is indeed an “uneven playing field”. in terms of the cost structure of broadband provision, the “playing field” is tilted in favour of Telstra’s competitors via LSS/ULL access at cheap rates. this is why:

          1/ Bigpond’s retail market share was eroded to under 50%;

          2/ Telstra Wholesale pricing has fallen dramatically over the past decade;

          3/ Telstra’s competitors are able to offer much better quotas at much lower prices.

          this cost advantage (in favour) of the competing ISPs will be removed when everyone is migrated to the new fibre platform which costs MORE to access than the copper network under Telstra Wholesale.

          Telstra will be in a much better position to compete to regain retail market share under the NBN as it will be on the same “cost footing” as the other ISPs (because it will no longer have to protect the wholesale value of its fixed-line network).

          more importantly, small ISPs will not be able to access the NBN directly. whether it is intentional or not, the effect of the capacity charges on the fibre tail circuit (which cannot by bypassed in a similar way to LSS/ULL) means that the small ISPs will have to access the NBN via Telstra Wholesale or Optus Wholesale.

          from the point of view of small ISPs having to access the NBN via a “wholesale aggregator”, the “playing field” under the NBN has actually become MORE uneven.

          in many different ways, the NBN entrenches the dominance of big players like Telstra and Optus. if Telstra loses out to anyone (at all), it will be Singtel Optus (i.e. a foreign company controlled by the Singaporean Government), and not to small Aussie ISPs.

      • Optus has 400 exchanges (the ones with the most customers). There’s 5000 odd Telstra exchanges but nearly all of them has relatively few users so contributes very little to the numbers. The majority of which btw will be migrated to Wireless/Satellite by NBN anyway.

        Optus is pretty much the equal 2nd largest DSL ISP in Australia (more or less tied with iiNet and TPG). They do not resell TW ports at all. As such, you can see that those 400 exchanges has the ability to cover a very large proportion of customers given they have a decently high marketshare. My estimate is greater than 50% of total Australian population (mostly in capital cities of course).

        You can’t just ignore the circumstances of the majority of the population (aka, voters).

  9. There is nothing stopping mid sized ISPs acting as wholesale aggregators also.
    It won’t just be Telstra and Optus, able to offer wholesale NBN connection but internode, iiNet, TPG even Exetel if it suits their business model to do so. It will also be a way to increase their user base which will help decrease their cost/user, under current NBN pricing.

    • the ones most likely to be wholesale aggregators are those who opposed 14 POI stranding their extensive backhaul assets.

  10. Steve Conroy also needs to know that to have a viable Exetel internet service you also need another service provider so you can contact Exetel to report a problem, which is by entering the support loop(lodge ticket, get automated response, ticket auto closed). Then there are the extra charges imposed once contract ends. Not to mention the continuous cryptic-weird emails or the vitriol of actually using your data quota,

    • Really is that how Exetel work (no sarcasm meant)?

      So when we are talking about comparing apples (NBN to current plans) and some love to use the “cheapest of the cheapest” to suggest the NBN is already too expensive, are aspects such as this being taken into account too, or is just the straight up dollar for dollar?

      Gee I bet I know?

      Thanks for that info Terry.

      • Basically Yes.

        At the minimum you need a ‘voice” service to call their automated support system and if you are lucky, Exetel pick up your connection again. Otherwise there is the ongoing purgatory of the automated system calling you back each time/repeatedly to perform an isolation/default modem reset and auto close your ticket. As it raises a new ticket each time you call, your problem never escalates.

        So, when you have a difficult problem, you eventually need someway of getting access to their forum to try and interact with one of their staff.

        So if you do not have work, a friendly neighbour, relatives or friends with internet access, then you are toast.

        • Thanks again Terry, I’ll have to keep that in mind when the usual suspects come here to compare, nice fresh NBN apples with their rotten to the core BS…!

      • Actually, no. You can lodge support by phone. Tickets get closed automatically on EVERY reply by them, and are opened AUTOMATICALLY when you respond.

        Call-wait times are published on their website – in real time – unlike almost every other provider in almost every industry.

        I have been using Exetel for years. Whilst it is true that they are a cheaper option, and some of these savings are made in support, that does not make them a bad ISP nor one to be avoided. Just don’t expect them to spend 20mins on the phone helping you setup your modem and wireless security. If you want that, then pay $20-$40 per month extra with one of their competitors – and remember that $20-$40 per month is $240-$480 per year, EVERY year. I’m sure you could hire a tech (or fly a relative from interstate!) and STILL save more with Exetel than you’ll spend with their competitors.

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