Optus dumps off-peak quota, raises prices


news The nation’s number two telco Optus has revamped its broadband plan structure in a move which will see it follow rival iiNet and dump the practice of separating quota into on- and off-peak chunks, but it has also simultaneously raised prices on most broadband plans, in a move that has already angered some customers.

The company did not announce the plan changes but quietly posted an update on the new plans on its company blog under the name of Michael Smith, its managing director of marketing. “To put it simply, over 30 of our current in-market plans will be reduced to just 12 new plans and bundled offers, making it easier for our customers to select a plan that is best suited to their needs,” Smith wrote. ” … The impact to customers will differ depending on what type of plan they are on however it will mean a price rise on most plans.”

The most visible change on Optus’ plans is that the company no longer separates monthly data quota into on- and off-peak chunks. This practice, once popular in Australia’s ISP industry, has gradually been phased out by most providers, with some moving to ‘unlimited’ plans and some merely integrating the quota into one larger pool. It is believed that many customers never used most of their off-peak quota, as it was generally only available during the early hours of the morning (from 2AM, for example). iiNet also integrated its quotas in March this year, following its acquisition of fellow ISP Internode, which had long trumpeted its own integrated quotas as a strength of its plans.

Optus is now attempting to focus customers around three key bundled plans, at $60 $85 and $110 monthly price points. The plans come with 10GB, 120GB and 300GB of data included, as well as a traditional PSTN telephone line bundled in and a number of call inclusions. The company is also offering customers several broadband offerings without a bundled telephone line (the so-called ‘naked’ plans), which start at $75 per month for 120GB of data included, and ranging up to $85 and $100 per month for plans with 300GB and 500GB of data included respectively.

Optus has also introduced a number of other features to its plans, such as the removal of upfront connection and delivery fees on 24 month plans, including a Wi-Fi modem with all plans, including an Internet security service by default (which Optus says is worth $6.99 per month) and automatically including higher speeds on its HFC cable broadband service. Optional short-term contracts as short as six months have been introduced, and Optus’ FetchTV IPTV service has also been included with selected broadband plans. NBN plans, seniors plans and Optus’ “50GB free broadband plans” will not be affected.

“We feel that it’s worth doing things differently if it makes things simpler to understand. It’s worth noting many of our existing broadband plans have never been changed,” wrote Smith on Optus’ blog. “We pride ourselves on taking an open and honest approach when informing customers of price changes and those customers impacted will soon receive letters notifying them at least 21 days before any changes take place which will give them some options of how they can best manage their services moving forward.”

By streamlining our fixed plans we will be able to offer greater clarity and simplicity when it comes to selecting a home phone or broadband plan through Optus.

However, some have already taken umbrage with the plan changes.

“As a long time customer of Optus Cable, I’ve got to say that I’m pretty disappointed,” wrote one customer in response to Optus’ blog. “You are charging us more for less product, with limited option but to churn to another telco. The Optus network has been affected by widespread congestion, high latency and general performance issues for over 18 months now, with little effort seen to be happening by optus to resolve the situation. I fail to see the benefit to your established client base from this initiative.”

“I don’t understand how Optus can simply break a 24 month contract without getting penalised,” wrote another. “I am sure it is somewhere on a small print, however if it was the customer as in our selfs canceling it I am sure we would have been penalised. Have been a loyal customer for a long time, however I believe it is time to look at other options as obviously Optus does not care about their loyal customers or contracts. Extra $6 a month for what?”

“It’s all well and good for those of you on cable, but the price increases are just crazy for those of us on ADSL … I’m just over 3k from my exchange, so I only get a whopping 5Mbit, so this increase now puts me into the “this is too expensive” bracket for the speeds I’m getting,” wrote one user on broadband forum Whirlpool, in a thread devoted to the price increases. “The vast majority of posts on these price rises show that we are not happy bunnies,” wrote another. “No one likes price rises of course, but this is more than that,-this is a price hike,- with the removal of some previous benefits,-and a prevailing attitude of servicing staff, that you ‘take it or take off’!”

So how bad are Optus’ new plans? Well, not terrible. They are clearly competitive with iiNet, the company’s biggest rival at the moment. iiNet currently offers customers a 400GB plan with a bundled phone line and some included calls for $99.90, which isn’t too different from Optus’ $100 plan with 300GB, and for $85 a month you can get a similar 120GB plan from Optus. For $79.90 you can get a 200GB option from iiNet. Optus is a little more expensive across the board, but then you expect that from Optus (I don’t know why people would pay it when there are cheaper options with generally better service, such as iiNet, but then that’s just me).

But I think what the bigger picture here is that Optus still isn’t giving customers a reason to switch to its broadband offerings. I would expect, if I switched to Optus, that the company would offer me a significantly cheaper deal if I also switched my mobile phone services across. This is the kind of package which iiNet struggles to offer, because it doesn’t operate its own mobile phone network — it merely resells access to Optus’ network — and so you’d think that Optus would go out of its way to get mobile customers onto its network.

But it doesn’t look like Optus is heavily promoting this kind of deal alongside its fixed broadband packages, which puzzles me. The company’s new broadband plans are broadly competitive, but they don’t offer anything which customers can’t get elsewhere a little cheaper, and without a significant bundling incentive, one wonders why you would switch to Optus in the first place. I’m left with the impression that Optus is still not focusing on the fixed broadband market very much, and is even alienating its current fixed broadband base a little. That’s the kind of behaviour which allowed rivals iiNet and TPG to steal a march on Optus over the past decade in the first place. You would have thought Optus would have learned its lesson by now … but apparently not.

Image credit: Optus


  1. Totally agree that Optus could of used their Mobile Network to leverage a better offering.

    But, they are including a free upgrade to a ‘Premium Speed Pack’. So if you live in an Optus HFC area this deal isn’t that bad.

    • @Tim

      Except that in less than 5 years, most people will be off the Optus HFC network….and there’s only some 400 000 customers on HFC, compared to the 900 000 they have on ADSL.

      This really doesn’t inspire me with confidence. Optus just seem to be doing almost everything half arsed. I just don’t get that attitude when they’re so far behind Telstra and only marginally ahead of iinet. It seems to me like they’re happy to wallow in mediocrity as they started doing in the early 2000’s after initial good competition in the 90’s.

      They just seem to have largely given up….

      • I agree 100%.

        Unless it is mobile they just don’t seem to be very interested.

        They are a “me too” operator living off the mobile brand.

      • “Optus just seem to be doing almost everything half arsed”

        iinet do things half assed, maybe optus thinks following their lead will work for them

  2. Not saying anything on the new plans, but ..

    ““I don’t understand how Optus can simply break a 24 month contract without getting penalised,” wrote another. “I am sure it is somewhere on a small print, however if it was the customer as in our selfs canceling it I am sure we would have been penalised. Have been a loyal customer for a long time, however I believe it is time to look at other options as obviously Optus does not care about their loyal customers or contracts. Extra $6 a month for what?””

    Since when has Optus forced people off grandfathered plans? Especially to users currently under a contract?

      • If that’s the case then there would need to be an opt-out clause to leave mid-contract, otherwise this will get rather messy with the ACCC and/or TIO.

  3. Just churn your Optus ADSL2+ bundle service to the Exetel/Optus ADSL2+ bundle service and get the same service/larger allowance and save heaps of $$$$. Vote with your feet.

  4. I like the ISP i am with, Amnet here in WA.

    I love the peak and offpeak quota, but they do one thing that stands out from the rest i think. The full 48hrs of the weekend from Midnight Saturday morning to 11:59:59 Sunday night is all entirely off peak.

    • It’s because Amnet is not like other ISP’s, they are primarily a business ISP and NOT a residential ISP, they only have some 20-30k residential customers compared to a _HUGE_ slice of the Perth business and corporate market.

      off-peak by definition is when usage on the network is low, for most ISP’s usage on the weekends is higher but for Amnet it’s actually the opposite.

      Take a look at this:

      You can clearly see 5 days where usage is high, 2 where it is low, and it repeats itself over and over again. In cases where there are less peaks, for example week40, it is because of public holidays (Queens Birthday) where their business customers are mostly not using their connections.

      Most ISP’s are not in a position to offer offpeak weekends, for example TPG has very similar usage every day of the week:

  5. If your on HFC its not a terrible deal though -> the premium speed thing is included -> which is $20\month.
    But not everyone used that so…
    Not sure about the “Internet Security suite” blah

  6. NuSkope use the optus network. And im on a Naked plan with them for 59.95 for 200GB. why would i pay optus more for less data. I moved from Optus last month, never looked back.

  7. It appears that Optus is often suffering from congestion on the international links, so the move away from peak/off peak will just increase this problem.

    Also Seven_tech it is going to much longer than 5 years before the Optus HFC network is shut down or largely covered by the NBN Co FTTH. NBN CO have said that only in the last 2 years will half the properties be connected to their FTTH. That means in 8 years (or more) only half of the Optus HFC network is covered.

      • The article doesn’t provide the full details that the contract would provide.

        If this article is to believed, then NBN Co would have to cover areas with Optus HFC before areas with no fixed broadband option. Plus there is no mention of the 18 month transition time that is in the Telstra/NBN Co agreement, which seems strange (not impossible as Telstra’s legal team is much better than Optus). The transition time allows end users up to 18 months to change over from the time NBN Co service is available at their location.

        • @Craig

          That’s correct. The NBN will pass many built up areas before many regional areas. And vice versa. Remember, Optus HFC is only passing some 1.2 Million premises in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. By 2018 some 6 million premises will be passed, a lot of them in cities as that’s where the highest density of premises are. NBNCo. by no means has to cover all 3 cities entirely to cover those in HFC areas. I’m not making anything up. Go and read the NBNCo. new corporate plan, page 15. End of migration is 2020, meaning the final areas must be connected by 2018 to allow for the 18 month cutover. Optus will no doubt accelerate the final migration as the less customers on their HFC, the more money the network loses.

          The 18 month transition is the same as Telstra’s.

  8. As others have suggested, churn to Exetel (Optus) whilst their customer service is in Sri Lanka I have found them very professional in all of my dealings.

  9. It took a call to the ombudsman to get optus to agree to refund the large connection and set-up fees I paid for my plan a month ago now they have changed it. Although I am still waiting for that in writing.

    How this isn’t a case of “bait and switch” I don’t know. I fail to be convinced that at the time of signing my 24 month contract, they had no knowledge what-so-ever that price increases wouldn’t be around the corner.

    Apparently a contract is just to lock in the customer, not the organisation.

    I think it is a case of shame on Optus for the way they have treated their current customers. In the real world, a quoted price is adhered to (within a reasonable timeframe), but apparently not in Optus-world. I’ll be leaving, and I won’t be coming back.

  10. Renai, you seem to love bundles!
    Companies which bundle are a positive and negative. I would argue that Optus would have to pay me before I would go on their landline services and the same goes with Telstra.
    Nearly every landline or broadband experience I have had with a big telco has been horrendous while the same cannot be said of the smaller onsellers who do not bundle.
    The only great experience with the big 2 I have had has been with Telstra mobile and even then I’m paying a premium for that

  11. They actually do offer a mobile bundle, but it’s not really heavily promoted (which I also find a tad odd), if you click through on the plans and view the terms and conditions:

    “25% Bundle Discount: Eligible customers must connect or recontract to a Phone and/or Broadband plan on the Optus Direct or Cable Networks for 24 months and maintain a Post-paid Mobile on a $30 plan or higher. All services must be registered at same address. The discount applies to your Phone and/or Broadband access fees or for the minimum term of your contract unless you cancel a service or change a service to an ineligible plan. The discount is not available in conjunction with any other rewards or discounts unless specified. “

  12. as a HFC customer, I unfortunatly am stuck with optus as my option due to
    1>5km from exchange – SLOW ADSL
    2>VOIP – pointless paying for a phone line and then paying for voip as well
    3>no active PSTN – expensive to activate a line, then switch to nude etc
    4>poor Line condition –
    5>wireless too laggy – not gonna happen
    6>NBN scheduled for the area in 12-18 months.

    Optus in the past (post “my netstats” days) grandfathered old plans, you could stay on them indefinetly so long as you paid your bill each month.
    This time round, its global. everyone cops it. 13-14 years I’ve been a cable customer. from “Lightning fast” (unlimited) -> netstats -> 3GB (sour) -> 6GB-> 6GB+6GB offpeak -> always paid ~$49-74.95 /mth for internet.
    Guess they just want to boost their ARPU again.

    Really have to weigh up my options. Don’t want a contract again..

    • Okay I think it’s going up $11.

      I’d be livid if I wasn’t paying for the premium speed pack already. If that was the case the plan would be going up by $31. I think.

      I like how they say we can ‘leave without penalty’ if we are in contract.

      How about adhering to the contract we both (as in myself and optus) signed in the first place?

      Might put in a TIO complaint if they try hiking our prices up.

  13. It dissappoints me that being a long time customer (+15yrs) that they have the nerve to send a letter stating my prices are increasing 10% with absolutely no explaination.
    I was one of the most loyal Optus customers until now – this obviously counts for nothing.
    Signed up with TPG today….. Like thousands of their existing (or should I say ex) customers.
    They would be loosing customers in droves – hope this teaches them a valuable business lesson.

    • It is not surprising to me. Companies want profit and everone other than Telstra are struggling.
      However Telstra also put up their prices recently so I am currenlty on a better plan than is on offer – more data and benefits than is on offer – so obviously they have revised their plans to be more competitive / less consumer friendly

  14. Was looking into Optus b/band, from research have discovered is expensive and a lot of customers are not happy with service.
    I’m not happy with service on prepaid phone, shoulda known was wasting time!
    Suggestions for good value net any1?

    • I would only really recommend iinet or tpg.
      Go for iinet if you want good service and consistently great internet and dont mind paying more for it.
      Go tpg if you just want to download a crap lot of stuff and dont mind it taking a little longer, its cheaper, theres less support and their network is not as good.
      Browsing and downloading from some places will be faster on iinet than tpg because tpg load up their network with more people
      Some here may doubt that tpg is slower, but read up about contention ratios, iinet generally has a better contention ratio than tpg.
      I’m on iinet and love it, my friend has a family of 4 and is on tpg and loves it.

  15. Optus offered a better home phone plus internet deal of $60 but the installation attempts or non- attempts have been farsical. If its this bad getting started what lies ahead. A telstra deal will be about $30 more a month, since we make at least two national calls a week. National calls are free with Optus but $1 each with Telstra. Am thinking we should jump ship before getting into a 24 month contract and possibly more strife. Not at all happy with the stalling of the installation process.

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