Primus confirms commercial NBN pricing


news National broadband provider Primus has confirmed it will leave its trial prices for the National Broadband Network fibre unchanged as the fledgling network moves into its commercial phase, declaring itself “comfortable” with its existing model, despite monthly prices that at times range up to $40 more than rival iiNet’s prices per month.

The company will offer three tranches of NBN pricing, based around three speed tiers – 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps – and with download limits ranging from 15GB to 300GB (although in each plan, a substantial amount of that quota will be allocated into the company’s off-peak period in the middle of the night). Prices will range from a minimum of $39.95 a month for a 25Mbps plan with 15GB of total data quota included, up to $139.95 for a 100Mbps plan with 300GB of data included – although the majority of that, 220GB, will have to be consumed during that plan’s off-peak period from 12 midnight to 12 midday.

Broadly, the plans do not appear to represent the same amount of value as previous pricing released by iiNet, one of Primus’ major competitors. iiNet, for example, is offering a $99.95 plan, which comes with a total data quota of a terabyte and 100Mbps speeds. The most comparable plan, Primus’ top-level 100Mbps plan with 300GB of data, costs $39.95 more per month.

However, Primus general manager of marketing and products Andrew Sims declared his company was “pretty comfortable” with the company’s pricing at the moment, noting that the ISP wasn’t targeting “the higher users” in the market, and that there was still a bit of work to do to examine how contention ratios in the network would change as more users started to adopt the NBN. “We’ll look into it over the next several months and see what the customer sentiment is,” Sims said. “It’s hard to gauge what the market’s looking for.”

Sims said that the shift to the predominantly fibre-based NBN meant every ISP would have to go back to the drawing board and look at the pricing. Primus had done extensive modelling internally and had learnt lessons from its earlier participation in the NBN trials in Tasmania and on the mainland than other ISPs.

“We obviously want the NBN service to be a success, so we’re talking to customers now on the trial as to how they found the service, on an ongoing basis,” he said. Sims noted Primus also had customers on other fibre networks, not just the NBN – for example infrastructure run by Telstra and Opticomm – and most customers seemed “pretty happy” with the model at the moment.

As various ISPs – first Internode, then Exetel and iiNet – have released their commercial NBN prices over the past month, debate has continued to swirl over whether NBN Co is charging an appropriate amount to ISPs for its wholesale services. Internode, for example, has criticised what it sees as the company’s untenably high prices, while iiNet has declared the prices similar to those it’s currently paying to provide ADSL broadband services.

Sims said the way NBN costs were constructed was different, but in general NBN Co charged “the middle ground” in terms of what Primus would usually pay for wholesale ADSL services. “We’re pretty comfortable with where prices are at,” he said.

Like other ISPs, Primus will also offer NBN customers bundled services with voice and broadband packaged in – and even a free wireless router. And the company is also offering a stand-alone telephone package over the NBN with a $24.95 monthly line rental fee. The cost of the company’s normal monthly broadband plans will decrease by $10 a month if customers bundle in a telephone plan as well. Like other ISPs, Primus will shape customers’ speeds (to 128Kbps in Primus’ case) once they exceed their monthly quota.

Primus appears to be taking a somewhat iterative approach to its National Broadband Network pricing, with the company leaving its trial prices as they are for the commercial NBN launch but also leaving itself open to change in the future. It’s not a bad approach — as Sims pointed out to me today, so far ISPs have only had their existing customers to experiment with in the initial NBN trials, so commercial NBN pricing is a bit of a wild beast which will change quickly.

However, there is still much to dislike in Primus’ NBN plans. Broadly, they are way more expensive than iiNet’s, and deliver poorer value. Restrictive on-peak/off-peak times, crappy quotas, shaping speeds (128kbps) which are a joke … I think Primus can do better than this, and I expect that over the next few months that they will. Remember when I wrote that Internode must slash its “horrible” NBN pricing? Well, the same applies here. Primus has already acknowledged it’s not going after high-end users. But I would recommend even low-end users avoid the company’s NBN plans at the moment, until they get a bit more serious about them.

Image credit: Clix, royalty free


  1. Touch on the pricier side, but that’s par for the course with iPrimus.

    More interesting to me is a choice not to offer the 12/1 or 12/5 speeds. Curious.

      • Entry level.

        You sign up cautious buyers to low end plans. Over time, cautious buyers on low end plans become more comfortable buyers on higher plans.

        “From little things, big things grow…”

        • I kinda agree with Hubert, I see low-end 12Mbps speeds as being … just not really worth the ISPs’ time. 25Mbps should be the minimum. If nothing else, I don’t think they’d be making much margins on the 12Mbps plans.

          • Just playing devil’s advocate.

            But not offering it, they are ignoring the “cautious Nelly” market segment. That might or might not be a good thing, but a customer is a customer, no matter how big.

          • I think with the 25/5mbps plans being just $5 more with iiNet there will be many who will look at that and think why not. Perhaps that is why Primus isn’t even bothering with 12/1. They are basically offering 25/5 for the same price as iiNets 12/1 anyway.

  2. “Internode, for example, has criticised what it sees as the company’s untenably high prices, while iiNet has declared the prices similar to those it’s currently paying to provide ADSL broadband services”

    Come on Renai, you are a journalist, not a politician. Taking Internode comments and pricing and comparing it to iiNet comments and pricing. You know very well they are based on two different CVC pricing models and that Internode have already said they are going to be repricing now that it has changed.

    • It is a fact that Internode has said NBN Co’s pricing is too expensive, while iiNet has said it is similar to ADSL. In addition, it is completely legitimate to compare the current NBN plans out there. Of course I also look forward to any future Internode changes ;)

      • Yes, but what you say their makes it look like they are different comments on the same pricing.

        “$15 a kg for bananas is way too expensive” person A
        “I think $2 a kilo is a great price for bananas” person B
        “Person A and person B cannot agree if bananas are good value” Journalist

        Is that legitimate? It’s what you are doing in your article.

        Keep the comments in context with what they are commenting on or your article is misleading. There is enough journalism like that related to the NBN already.

        • @Dbremner I’m sorry, I don’t get your point. It’s not $15 versus $2 (Internode versus iiNet). The wholesale prices are the same for everyone.

        • Still more than iiNet. I would like to see if iiNet keeps up that pricing when the number of NBN customers increases and what real world speeds they are getting. I guess the on peak/off peak helps them to maintain their peak time speeds with less backhaul.

          • Nice one. This seems like very good pricing. I know some may not like it, but one thing I look for in an ISP is high volume plans that cost something significant. It deters leechers. I remember what happened on Netspace when they offered the cheapest high volume plans, it became very very slow. Hit 12 midnight (offpeak at the time) and you basically couldn’t use the net for 15-30 minutes with all the download managers kicking in. Once TPG started offering unlimited things got better and better as the TB junkies moved on.

          • I don’t anticipate the NBN becoming very slow under any circumstances … sure, leechers will exist, in fact, I think they will flourish. But I don’t see even poorly provisioned CVC as being that much of a terrible inhibitor. ISPs will quickly learn what the limits are — and I think there will be a stack more power here than under the current network.

          • Exactly Renai.

            You’ll see a few stories early on about ISPs getting the CVC/AVC balance wrong – (heck, it happened in the original pilot in Tassie) – but competitive forces will find the correct balance.

      • How about this if you still can’t see the problem. Your are saying both Internode and iiNet are commenting on “the NBN prices” and are in disagreement with if they are good or bad. Unfortunately it is not the same prices they are talking about.
        “Internode, for example, has criticised the earlier NBN pricing what it sees as the company’s untenably high prices, while iiNet has declared the new prices similar to those it’s currently paying to provide ADSL broadband services.”
        Not misleading then. Not as exciting as if it were a disagreement over the pricing, but not tabloid.

        • I’m sorry mate, but I speak to both companies on a regular basis — in fact, the CEOs of both companies — and they have both commented on the same NBN pricing in public but with different opinions. Sure, behind the scenes iiNet is trying to get prices reduced as well — it was part of same CVC rebate that Internode helped orchestrate — but in public iiNet has been open in saying the prices are OK for its model.

          There is also the fact that the CVC rebate does not ultimately change NBN Co’s pricing. It only postpones it.

          • OK, fair enough if they differ on the pricing still. I tried to look for more recent comment from Internode on what they though of the current CVC but could find none. I guess inside info helps. I was going on your linked sources for your comment and they were for different pricing.

  3. it is still early days… how can any ISP model pricing on a Network that isn’t even fully rolled out and work different to all other Networks that exist. Prices will evolve just like they did with ADSL. Why would anyone pass judgment on NBN pricing this early when the customer base is tiny and you can not offer volume discounts. More users = cheaper… it is not rocket science… Wait till the NBN is fully rolled out and has a decent pool of users, then comment on pricing.

    Also most of this article is based on your opinion.. that isn’t journalism, just stick to facts and let the reader decide. We don’t want your option, we want just the facts.. this isn’t a Facebook Status Update.

    • Actually many readers have told me recently that they like both the news and my opinion/analysis of it– the dual format :)

      I pass judgement on the NBN pricing, although the market is yet small, because tomorrow there are people who will be commercially able to buy NBN services. And some of those people read Delimiter and want to know about pricing so they can choose who to go with. In addition, the NBN prices are also a matter of national interest, given the extreme level of attention which the NBN project as a whole is garnering.

  4. shaping speeds (128kbps) which are a joke

    The shaping speeds on all NBN plans are a joke. A 100/40mbps connection should be shaped to 12/1mbps in this this day and age. 50/20mbps to 8/1 etc. Perhaps some kind of tiered shaping would be a good idea, say you are on a 100/40mbps with 1tb once you use that you get shaped to 12/1mbps with 500gb and once you use that get shaped to 256kbps dial-up speeds.

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