Telstra Small Bundle
|Price per mth:||$69.00|
|Set up fee||$0.00|
|Contract Length:||24 months|
Min total cost $1715.00 Add to my short list
Telstra Cable Small Bundle
|Price per mth:||$69.00|
|Set up fee||$0.00|
|Contract Length:||24 months|
Min total cost $1715.00 Add to my short list
Telstra Launches New Bundling Options for Belong
- Telstra's new low-cost brand debut
- Flexible no-contract options
- Now available across Australia
Late in 2013, telecom giant Telstra quietly lit the fuse on a new streamlined, low-cost internet service provider via their new “Belong” brand. Since last October, Belong has been offering no-contract broadband solutions in the Sydney region, and has recently expanded across Australia.
Telstra has had a low-cost alternative in the works for some time now. Telstra digital executive director Gerd Schenkel, in an interview with the Australia Financial Review in late 2012, explained that Telstra was shifting their fixed-line broadband strategy away from network construction to focus on improving customer service. Mr Shenkel stated that Telstra’s goal was to “…lead the core business into a lower-cost world [because] ultimately the whole company needs to become lower cost”.
The origins of Belong lie in Telstra’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase the South Australian Adam Internet brand mid-2013. The purchase of Adam internet proved unsuccessful due to objections from rival internet providers and the ACCC, but just three months later Telstra, in a dynamic move, launched the Belong brand with the slogan “Dance to your own beat”. The launch was accompanied by a low-key social media campaign, encouraging users to post “killer dance moves” with the hashtag #DanceToBelong on their social accounts.
Belong’s mission statement describes the service as “a new way to get broadband in Australia, one so ideal that it doesn’t need to lock people in to a long term contract; people belong because they want to.” Belong offers 24/7 support, including chat support on the belong.com.au website. Feedback on the popular Australian broadband forum Whirlpool supports this- with many users posting positive feedback describing increases in speed and customer service, amongst other benefits to the service. Hit the jump to view the thread and see some more detailed consumer opinions.
The major draw of Belong is the simplified pricing structure, offering just two separate plans- Regular and Large. Regular offers 70GB of ADSL2+ per month for just $50 per month, or $70 including land line rental. The Large plan offers a whopping 250GB ADSL2+ per month for just $60, or $80 per month including land line rental. The land line service offered with the Belong bundles offers unlimited local calls and 13/1300 numbers
Belong commits to no hidden costs and simple, ‘what you see is what you get’’ services - once you reach your quota your service is slowed down to ADSL1 speeds, roughly 5-10% of average ADSL2+ speeds, for the remainder of the month. Both of these offers are contract-free, and Belong is waiving the $80 activation fee for new customers in addition to discounting the cost of their $99 Belong ADSL2+ modem to just $1. This offer lasts until the end of May 2014.
Altogether Belong is shaping up to become a major player in the ISP industry, and seems to be the provider of choice for consumers seeking a flexible, budget conscious broadband solution. If you’d like to know more about Belong or check their availability in your area, give them a call on 1300 652 369.
Should you leave Telstra?
- P2P throttling causing angst
- Plenty of other providers
- Unlimited plans are friendlier for downloaders
Last week Fairfax Press reported that Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications provider, will be trialing P2P throttling on a small number of Victorian users. This means that for those affected, Bit Torrent speeds will slow down significantly.
But don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. If you are a Victorian Telstra customer, you have the option to opt-out of the trial by calling 13 7663. Furthermore, not everybody will be affected, but it’s still worth calling to check.
What does this mean for the future?
This is a bold move by Telstra, and whilst it is just a trial, it does indicate that Telstra have an agenda against copyright infringing downloads. Right now, through Telstra’s use of deep-packet inspection, bit torrent users are being affected specifically. But beware, there’s no stopping Telstra from targeting users who stream illegally, gamers or heavy skype users. Essentially, consumption of internet is increasing and in order to maintain high speeds for all users, Telstra is trialing a reduction of bit torrent usage. This means that if you're a low data user on the Telstra network, this agenda will actually improve your broadband service. But if you're not and you want to continue downloading endless amounts of TV and movies at high speeds, perhaps it's time to move to a more suitable provider.
What are your ISP options?
As a high data user who enjoys saving hundreds of dollars a month through using Bit Torrents as opposed to purchasing DVDs and cable TV, here are some plans you may like to consider:
Club Telco – cheapest unlimited broadband plans on the market
- From $25 per month
- $30 monthly phone line rental
- $50 set up fee
- No contract
Club Telco really brings value for money, but make sure you give them a call. Their $25 per month fee is not available in all areas, call Club Telco to find out if they can service your area and how much they will charge you. Club Telco’s number is 1300 185 155
TPG – great value bundles and wide availability
- $49.99 per month for unlimited broadband
- OR $59.99 per month for unlimited broadband and home phone bundle (cheaper than paying $30 for line rental per month)
- $100 set up fee on an 18 month contract
TPG are great, particularly if you want to bundle with a home phone and actually plan on making calls. For TPG, give us a call on 1300 106 571, we are a dealer for them.
In terms of value, these plans are great, but if you want super high speeds, you may like to consider cable internet.
Optus – best value cable provider, they also offer their service as a standalone product rather than in a bundle
- $100 per month for 500GB of data
- No set up fees
- Free modem for new users
- 24 month contract
Imagine speeds of up to 100 mbps, that’s over four times faster than ADSL2+. If cable is something you are considering, give Optus a call on 1300 137 897
High data users, if you want to continue using as much internet as you please and to do anything you want, perhaps remaining with Telstra is not the best idea. It’s worth giving one of the competing providers a call, you’ll receive a higher data allowance for a lower price. Plus, your precious TV shows, movies, gaming and skype will be protected!
How Telstra Could Win Back Our Hearts
- The real competition is international
- NBN really about eliminating Telstra
- The alternatives, and lack of real options
Understanding the Australian telecommunications industry mostly means understanding Telstra, and then the rest. In few places in the industrialized world does a private company have such a stranglehold on such a vital utility as communications, with such implicit government support.
This shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – a national champion that offers a AAA Rated security for ‘Mum and Dad” investors, with a market model that literally can’t lose (Telstra makes plenty of money from disgruntled citizens who think they’re not connected to Telstra) seems like the height of mixed-market liberal economic reform: using market pressure to keep a utility monopoly innovative, removing the complacency and stagnation that firms like this face when supported by direct taxpayer investment. The only problem? It hasn’t worked from Day One, and Telstra refuses to apologize or acknowledge this. And it could have been (and one day might be ) so very different.
What Telstra Is
Telstra is an incumbent telecom carrier. In context this means that they are a private monopoly owner of a formerly state-owned utility. This started in earnest under John Howard, who took steps to privatize all of Telstra in stages, allowing small investors to buy shares in a company that provided almost all last-mile access to individual homes.
Last Mile access is 99.9% of all the investment, headaches and moneymaking in developing a national communications network. The scale of a national telecom network is enormous, even with a tiny population like in Australia. Less than 20 individual lines links the entire country for overseas traffic. The domestic network terminates at about 5000 points around the country , generally at telephone exchanges.
The Last Mile, from exchange to end user, is in the copper telephone wire from these exchanges to the actual user premises. In Australia, this means 12 million individual connections, and rapidly growing as Australia builds new homes and splits large homes into multi dwelling units. It’s a big job: but owning this part of the chain gives you all the leverage. It means that everyone has to go through you and pay a tariff to reach paying customers.
In the wider points of the network, there’s more competition, but less money to be made. Duplicating a big pipe into the country is relatively easy: duplicating a 5000 node network is fiendishly difficult. Duplicating a network of 12 million nodes and constantly growing is beyond the scope of almost any private company, which is why it was left to governments in the first place.
What Telstra has done to upset people
The idea of privatizing a big public utility is to use market forces to encourage employees to deliver the best service possible, because they’ll be incentivized by the money. And for investors, it’s a safe bet to invest money in a company that can’t really fail to deliver a profit, unless that particular utility goes out of fashion (for instance, if you invested in a formerly state owned gas utility just as a breakthrough comes along in clean nuclear tech).
But Telstra has generally focused on squeezing as much value out of its existing copper network as possible, while extracting automatic revenue from it. Problems with the network that needs investment? No sweat, just jack up access fees to cover it - what are customers going to do- not pay, and have no connection? Regulator doesn’t like that? No problem, we’ll just stall until a new government comes along.
At the same time, Telstra has used powerful lobbyists to reduce the obligation to provide a quality service – that might mean getting rid of Grade of Service guidelines guaranteeing audio fidelity, proximity to an exchange to service a broadband signal, or guaranteed turn around times on faults.
In other words, Telstra has not used the market to encourage better performance, it has used its monopoly to guarantee more money in Telstra coffers. True, it shares this largesse with shareholders, and reinvests into its mobile network - a mobile network for voice and data that might be terribly fast, but increasingly irrelevant for how Aussies want to use the web. Small download allowances, high latency and frequent dropouts – these can’t be overcome easily unless you build 12 million towers.
Yeah, but, not quite
Telstra pays its salesmen well, and encourages every branch of its workforce to have sales on its mind. Billing, tech support – it doesn’t matter, part of the ‘solution’ to any problem should involve spending more money with Telstra.
This is good if you want to make money, but bad if you want to provide a utility. And Telstra seems dead-set on proving it wants to do the former. Why not just go into finance, and leave the running of a telecom network to a company committed to doing just that?
Because Telstra is not the gutsy, competitive, free market champion it thinks it is. It’s got the same problem that a government run company does. It doesn’t have to do much to stay ahead, so why do anything at all? Changing anything requires several layers of approvals, all while the customer waits. The customer can go elsewhere – or can they? In the case of ADSL (still the most widely available means to achieve a reliable broadband connection) Telstra still makes money. The customer can kind of vote with their feet, but the consequences to Telstra are minimal. You’re still paying them.
BT in the UK is a close analogue. Like Telstra, it is a private incumbent provider. Unlike Telstra, it has applied a certain pride to the role of being the country’s backbone, maintaining steady upgrades to its infrastructure and working closely with the UK government to make sure they can be trusted to act in the best interest of the nation. They make profits.
BT also decided early on to draw a line between their retail and wholesale arm, calling their wholesale arm Openreach. It keeps ‘BT’ out of a customer’s mind when applying for a service, if they happen to have a problem with BT. Telstra ostensibly did the same by calling their internet retail arm BigPond and their mobile arm MobileNet, but they retained the Telstra name for both their wholesale and retail telephony arms, clouding the issue – and have in the past gone through fits and starts in blurring the line between their wholesale and retail operations.
Maybe it’s culture- the UK is a major hub for the European internet, and a British man (Sir Tim Berners Lee) was one of the web’s architects. The UK has also always had a soft spot for government or crown bureaucracies who handle vital interests with a certain ‘good of the nation’ attitude.
Australia has been similarly inclined in the past, but throughout the 80’s and 90’s have sought a more American style liberal economy with little to no state involvement. This is all well and good when it comes to goods and services, but underlying infrastructure requires a focus on performance over profit. It’s what taxes were made for.
Looks good: but will it last?
Of course, this is the point of the NBN – it’s not about delivering a ‘gold plated’ network for internet junkies, it’s about removing Telstra’s monopoly status. The fact that it will be faster and better is a result of technological advancement: recreating a copper telephone network would be ridiculous - copper was only used because it was already there. And buying the existing network would cost roughly the same but fail to resolve the technical issues with it.
It boggles the mind why people would want to stop it- the only company who would benefit from staying with the copper access network is Telstra, and even their shareholders don’t want it. The main alternative peddled by the Coalition in opposition is bringing fibre to about every 200 homes, and then utilizing the existing copper network for the rest of the way.
That’s not bad, and it’s what we would have had ten years ago if Telstra had been primarily concerned with making sure we had a good network. It’s also not clear if this would remove Telstra’s monopoly, or just concentrate it down to a last few hundred metres, rather than a last mile. Shadow Comms Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that an NBNco under his aegis would own the entire copper network - but he has never factored in the cost of buying even a shortened copper network from Telstra into his cost projections. There just seems to be this idea that under a coalition government, Telstra would grow bored with making money and start giving away prime assets.
In fact, Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN, as opposed to Fibre-to-the-Home or FttH) is ONLY about bringing faster broadband, and does NOTHING to remove the real problem: a private monopoly. So any suggestion that the current NBN plan is merely about delivering faster porn and illegal downloads to basement dwellers shrivels in the face of the proposed alternative - a network that still does that, with none of the other benefits.
Could the NBNco, the government corporation, become another Telstra? Yes, absolutely. They’ll be a monopoly. But they’ll be accountable to voters and their representatives.
And in the end, even if they become hopelessly corrupt…we’ll still have a strong network that is hugely scalable to future needs, and can be easily built on in a way that the current network can’t. How much easier? Thanks to Fibre’s much better speed-over-distance capability, the number of interconnection points goes from 5000 to 121. This means a fault in one point of interconnect can affect 100,000 customers: but it also means maintenance and upgrades can immediately affect the same number.
The NBN will supposedly relegate Telstra to a position of having to compete down in the trenches with everyone else. No more protection, no more premium branding – they buy access from NBNco like everyone else. After all they’ve pulled, they’ll get devoured by aggressive competitors like TPG, or superior customer service providers like Internode and iPrimus…right?
Maybe, but not for a while. They’re still heavily involved in the rollout, and have been paid enough to account for their lost monopoly for several years. That gives them time to squeeze the last drops out of their current regime, and to shore up their reputation in the meantime. And if the coalition wins and starts to dismantle the current NBN, then the bones of it might get turned over to Telstra anyway. So then we’re dealing with a monster with better weapons.
Unless they find their soul. Telstra’s real competition doesn’t quite reside in Australia. Telecommunications has become a global game, with massive conglomerates looking beyond their borders for dominance. Spain’s Telefonica provides fixed and mobile communications for a huge part of Europe. Vodafone, a UK company, has a total subscriber base of 440 million, which is 7 times the population of the UK.
Telstra has had little luck expanding out of Australia, where it commands over half of a market of 22 million subscribers, making them about a third of the size of Qatar’s largest mobile provider. They have some customers in Hong Kong, a venture in New Zealand that they just sold to Vodafone, and that’s it.
In this part of the world, the Big Bad is Singapore Telecom (SingTel), with half a billion customers – and 100% ownership of Optus. Were Australia worth the effort, SingTel could crush Telstra eventually.
Vodafone has a foothold in Australia – one that loses them money. But if Vodafone wanted to come and build fibre networks, they could. They do it in the UK, where they compete directly with BT.
US telcos are a different animal – but if regulation ever tightens in the US, At&T and Verizon might see Australia as a place for expansion.
The problem with all of these is that none of these companies could be trusted to take on the difficulty of networking such a large, empty place. They would focus just on the juicy metro areas, extracting profits and not giving a hoot about the sparsely populated regional and rural areas.
So what? You might say - Telstra has demonstrated the same lack of interest. But Telstra’s head offices are in Australia. Their linesman, engineers and management are mostly Australian. They care. They’re in the DNA of this country – their exposure to this place makes them one of the best mobile networkers in the world. They’re the only company who could possibly care.
A Telstra that actually cares about the end result would be a huge blessing. Imagine a national carrier who wanted to be around 100 years, rather than one acting like a fly-by-night company extracting short term profits and then letting their hard-built infrastructure collapse. Imagine having pride as a Telstra shareholder, rather than biting your nails hoping that their latest PR bungle wouldn't threaten your 28c dividend.
If Telstra is unwilling to do it, another company would normally step in. But no Australian company can drum up that type of money from investors without that monopoly guarantee, because they couldn't pay back the initial investment for several decades. There’s just not enough people, not enough scale. If not the NBN, tt has to be Telstra. Unless we can find a foreign company that for some reason, really really cares about the good people of rural WA, where there’s 2 paying subscribers every 200 kilometres.
Telstra has squandered a golden opportunity to prove that privatization of public utilities can work – for more than just disinterested shareholders. They can boast all they like about owning half the market – but they started out with ALL of the market, and still exert their weight around, and STILL managed to lose 50% of subscribers; that’s how bad they’ve pissed people off.
But alas, for Australians, there’s little room for anyone else to do the job of being a sterling, dynamic infrastructure and utility telco, short of the government. If Telstra wanted to win back the hearts and minds of more than just the people franking their dividend each quarter, they’d have to demonstrate a commitment to doing what they say they’re here to do: provide telecommunications, not act as a finance company who happen to own a telecom network.
Telstra to trial P2P throttling
- Bit Torrents will be affected
- Opt-out available by calling 13 7663
- ADSL in Vic only for now
The Fairfax Press have reported that Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications and broadband provider, will begin a trial to slow down internet traffic over Peer to Peer networks, making this the clearest and most impressive leap forward yet for those looking to stamp down copyright infringing downloads. The trial will start from today in Victoria only, and only on a select number of ADSL services (broadband over standard copper telephone lines).
Need unlimited data? Call us for details on TPG Unlimited bundles from $60 a month – 1300 106 571
In layman’s terms, this equates to “Telstra is going to slow down your bit torrents”. Bit Torrents, by far the largest and most popular peer-to-peer file hosting service, is used for several legitimate purposes – the most noteworthy being distribution of new builds for Linux, an open-source operating system for PCs.
But the vast (VAST) majority of traffic over Bit Torrents is dedicated to the sharing of digital media. TV Shows, movies, music, eBooks, adult content, games, software – all of it can be hacked, cracked and shared. For many people, there is little reason to get a plan with several hundred gigabytes (ir unlimited) for any reason but to download this content – if one were to legally purchase even 100 GB of digital content every month from legitimate sources like iTunes or Amazon, that could mean several hundreds of dollars.
Telstra’s reasoning, according to their blog:
The objective of this trial is to identify options and pricing plans for our customers that will improve overall customer experience, to ensure that we continue to offer the best quality service at the best possible price. Network management practices of this kind are common internationally and are already in use by a number of Australian ISPs (particularly on wireless networks).
Telstra has interests to maintain that are affected by the growing use of peer to peer sharing networks for sharing digital media; namely, their interests in Foxtel and other online content services, such as BigPond Music and BigPond Movies. But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that almost all congestion on fixed line networks is due to some ‘bandwidth hogs’ trying to download the entire internet in an evening.
But likening the reason for the trial to the measures taken for wireless networks is a bit of a stretch. Wireless networks are, by their nature, shared. A tower radiates a signal to a wide area, and any valid device (with the right SIM card) can access that to connect to the web. ADSL is a single line connection back to a telephone exchange, which plugs directly into a port. The port is connected to a big mainframe. The mainframe is connected to a high capacity fibre optic link, carrying all those connections to the wider internet. At some point, all those connections are shared; but they’re shared on high capacity trunk lines. The sharing on a wireless network is done immediately, and is wholly dependent on local factors. Telstra (and all other wireless carriers) absolutely must ration data on a wireless network to ensure stability of services for all; on a wired network, they could just activate more fibre lines.
How data consumption works
At a certain point, offering ‘unlimited’ access comes down to some basic calculus. If the average speed of a customer line is, say, 4.3 Mbps, then even running that connection at top speed, all the time, 24/7 would consume just over 1000 GB a month. So at the exchange, if you’re going to connect 1000 homes, you need to provide capacity to the exchange for about 4.3 Gbps. That’s not easy, but it’s nowhere near ‘difficult’.
Telstra, in fact, has the greatest ability to offer this, thanks to their superiority in fibre runs all around Australia.
Telstra has been pushing mobile broadband connectivity for years, relying on the superiority of their network to Vodafone’s and Optus’, and on the fact that their monopoly for fixed line services is drawing to a close (thanks to regulation and the NBN). Customers are reporting to us that in areas where other ISPs have no problem delivering ADSL broadband, Telstra says they can’t and offers Mobile Broadband only – often at much higher cost, with less data, and great instability.
If Telstra were to scare off ADSL customers on huge 500GB plans, that would leave non-heavy data users, who could more easily be convinced to go wireless. If you’re only using 5 GB a month of your 25GB ADSL plan, why not pay the same for a 10GB mobile broadband plan – and get the benefits of mobility?
It also means that all the capacity could be re-routed from telephone exchanges to feed more and more mobile towers, further putting Telstra’s network superiority out of reach from their competition.
The benefits to the customer are dubious. What if they change their habits, and start using more data – for illegitimate or legitimate means? Software updates can be several GB in size. Gaming is a huge consumer of data as well. Remotely logging in to work requires stability that mobile service would have trouble delivering, even if a tower was to be built in every front yard in Australia.
The Telstra throttling is automatic to some customers in Victoria, but you can opt out of the trial by calling Telstra on 13 7663. But if you don’t want to take chances and want to go with another provider (and you like to consume a lot of data without worrying about being slowed down) then your best options are:
TPG (1300 106 571). TPG’s Unlimited data plans start from $59.95 (total bundle price) and connects to about 70% of homes. They are Australia’s largest wholesaler who also offer Unlimited plans. They own their own international submarine cables and peering exchanges as well, making them the best suited to deliver services for people who like to bring the bits.
iPrimus (1300 137 794) iPrimus offers Unlimited data plans from $70 a month (naked) to about half the area covered by TPG’s network. They own their own domestic backhaul networks, and operate all of their customer service, tech support and sales from Melbourne. This on-shore strategy makes them the best provider for customer service, that also offers Unlimited data.
Dodo (1300 192 775) and Club Telco (1300 138 155) – Both are part of the Eftel group, and offer basically the same plans for Unlimited data:
$60 – if your exchange is part of the Eftel network, which is about half the size of Primus’,
$70 – if your exchange is part of the Optus Wholesale network, which is just slightly smaller than TPG’s,
$90 – if you’re in a regional or rural exchange where Eftel and Optus are unavailable, leaving you with Telstra Wholesale
This means that both ISPs have the lowest availability for cheap Unlimited access that they themselves control (an important distinction), but it also means they’re about the only ones who can provide Unlimited data to many rural customers.
Telstra has drawn a clear line in the sand here. Executive Director Michael Lawrey didn’t hint that he wants to get rid of bandwidth hogs – he said it very explicitly. In a speech in Dublin in 2011, he threatened to ‘cut off downloaders of illegal content”. He is also on the record as saying that the Fair Use policy, which is open ended, has barely been tapped as a source of legitimacy to monitor and control traffic. And in the same source, when it was suggested that 80% of Telstra’s traffic was from p2p and similar activity, Lawrey was reported to have said;
(if the carrier's proposed system) "cut out 80 per cent of the non-value adding traffic – good…I'd rather not have those 80 per cent as customers. I'd rather someone else had them as customers,"
A lot can be read from the idea of someone paying for a service and using it to it’s full potential being classified as ‘non value adding’. It might just mean that these users cause more harm to the network than their monthly subscription is worth. Or, it might mean that these customers are less likely to be enticed by Telstra’s own content delivery systems, which includes Foxtel. Either way, there are plenty of other ISPs, such as those listed above, who would likely be very happy to obtain 80% of Telstra’s customers.
Please call us on 1300 106 571 if you need assistance finding an ISP that’s right for you.
Telstra has a long and rich history in the Australian telecommunications industry. Telstra initially started as a government owned organisation and was founded by the Commonwealth in 1975. Back then, Telstra was the country’s only telco and they were solely responsible for providing communications connections throughout the country.
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