news TPG has launched a new plan on the National Broadband Network fibre infrastructure which appears to match the existing best option on the market from rival Exetel, with the national broadband provider also now offering an unlimited option at speeds of 100Mbps for just $89.99 per month.
Up until now, Exetel was the only national broadband provider which offered a high-end NBN plan at 100Mbps with unlimited download quota. That plan was launched in February this year and immediately appeared to be the best NBN fibre broadband plan on offer in Australia. At that stage, TPG also offered unlimited broadband plans on the NBN, but only at speeds of 12Mbps, while other providers such as Dodo only offered unlimited plans on an “off-peak” basis, and rival providers such as Optus, Telstra and iiNet offered plans which appeared to cost significantly more and offer less benefits than the Exetel option.
However, buried in last week’s financial results announcements (which were primarily covered by the media in terms of TPG’s plans to deploy Fibre to the Basement infrastructure throughout Australia) was a slide showing that the company has launched a new NBN plan featuring unlimited data usage and 100Mbps speeds for $89.99 a month. You can see the full PDF here.
For an additional $10 per month, customers can receive unlimited local calls and “standard” national calls to mobiles, as well as 100 international minutes per month, while for an extra $20 per month, customers can also receive unlimited calls to standard Australian mobiles and unlimited international calls to a set group of countries.
TPG also simultaneously cut the price of its existing 12Mbps unlimited NBN plans by $10 (from $69.99 to $59.99). The same additional telephone options also exist.
The continued existence of cut-rate broadband plans available over the NBN, which are priced at extremely similar levels as current ADSL broadband plans but offer radically superior services — also calls into question the ongoing claim by the Coalition that broadband prices over the infrastructure will be more expensive than current broadband packages.
The cheapest broadband plans on the NBN start around the $30 mark, and NBN plan prices over the past several years have only become more affordable as cut-rate players such as TPG, Dodo and Exetel have provided cheap plans in competition with higher-priced providers such as Telstra, Optus and iiNet.
“Of course it is a fact that the biggest barrier to broadband access is not technology (thats important of course) but income,” wrote Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a statement on his website last month.
“Households in the bottom 20% of incomes are ten times more likely NOT to have access to the internet than those in the top 20% So affordability matters and because our approach to the NBN will be $32 billion cheaper to complete, it will also be much more affordable. The strategic review concluded that for NBN Co to get the 7.1 percent return Labor promised it would need to raise internet charges by up to 80 percent.”
“So if you were a person living in an area with poor broadband and were on lower income than average the consequence of Labor’s approach is that you would wait longer to get better broadband and when you got it, it would be much less affordable. A lose – lose you might say – not to speak of the additional cost to the taxpayer.”
“Some people have said to me they don’t care how long it takes or much it costs – they want to get fibre to the premises. That rather reckless attitude might suit someone who had pretty good broadband now and a high income, but if you have no broadband now and don’t have a high income you wouldn’t be so blase.”
In mid-2012, I wrote an opinionated article arguing that, because of the high quality of the NBN’s fibre platform, competition amongst retail players would rest almost entirely on price. At the time, I wrote:
“If I think about the world of the NBN, I think about signing up with TPG or Dodo for a 100Mbps plan that will probably offer me a terabyte of quota for something like $50 to $60 a month. Because when the fibre cable running to my premises will be so fantastic, there will be no more need to keep paying top-tier ISPs insurance money to ensure a steady service or for value-added products; that reliability will just come built-in, and the best value-added broadband products will come from global suppliers.”
It appears that this scenario is precisely what we are starting to see here: Cut-rate providers like TPG offering incredible deals on the NBN’s fibre infrastructure. 100Mbps with unlimited quota for $89.99 a month? I suspect most Australians who use the Internet at all would see that as an incredible deal. Now if only the infrastructure extended to my premises …