Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.

Summary:I'm sure we've all written e-mails, or other things online, that have come back to bite us.With its pointless and, frankly, bizarre hate campaign against the government, Telstra in particular must have been suffering post-email regret.

I'm sure we've all written e-mails, or other things online, that have come back to bite us.

With its pointless and, frankly, bizarre hate campaign against the government, Telstra in particular must have been suffering post-email regret.

Then there is Telstra's downright nasty campaign against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission -- a body set up to ensure a fair competitive environment for Australians -- and the sheer embarrassment of a senior government minister having to step in to warn the carrier off of the independent regulator.

Telstra thinks nothing of making a spectacle of itself in its fights over broadband pricing. Rivals claim Telstra is keeping the price of broadband artificially high (it wouldn't be the first time), and many welcomed last week's lodgement of a special access undertaking to build an open, nationwide broadband network as a Martin Luther-esque act of defiance.

Dropping the hymnal
G9, the group that nailed their proverbial doctrine on the government's proverbial door, is dominated by Telstra archrival Optus, as well as smaller carriers like AAPT, iiNet, and others. Like modern-day musketeers, the nine carriers have united in an all-for-one-one-for-all attack on Telstra.

One can only wonder, then, what the eight G9 members who are not Internode Systems think about the company's decision to raise its broadband prices less than a week after the group lodged its long-awaited plan to deliver cheaper, fairer broadband to all Australians.

In a dramatic restructuring of its broadband plans that Internode euphemistically describes as "updat[ing] plans to meet [a] maturing market", the company has blamed YouTube and BitTorrent for increasing traffic volumes that have pushed up its costs. To compensate, 13 new broadband plans will see many broadband customers paying up to AU$40 more per month.

Internode does have a point, but its timing simply couldn't have been worse.

Here, we have significant rate increases by a company that has continually toed the G9 line by portraying Telstra as a money-hungry monopolist. Just last month, Internode issued a press release entitled "Internode warns Telstra profit will choke broadband" -- and in the release, Internode managing director Simon Hackett is quoted as saying:

If Telstra receives the green light to establish an FTTN monopoly, then prices for high-speed broadband will increase dramatically, which will throttle the adoption of broadband in this country. ... Higher prices suit Telstra and feed it high profit margins, but they will savage competition and undermine the viability of alternative broadband providers. ... If the Australian Government allows Telstra to build its FTTN network with high access costs to its wholesale customer, the cost for the Australian consumer will be higher prices and reduced innovation.

Now we find higher prices not from Telstra, but from Internode itself. This is the same company that recently trumpeted its achievement in passing the 100,000 customer mark, becoming South Australia's first Internet company to pass AU$100m in revenues, and opened a brand-new AU$3m datacentre in Adelaide's CBD to accommodate its dizzying growth.

To say Internode is suffering financially seems to be a stretch, and the company's decision to raise rates now will work against everything it and the rest of the G9 have fought so hard to achieve. No matter how loudly Internode cries "YouTube", irritated customers will see this unilateral increase as a profit-grabbing measure little better than the acts that Internode accuses Telstra of perpetuating.

Internode, after long claiming an unrestrained Telstra will push price rises through the roof, has jumped the gun and put them there of its own accord. One has to hope the other G9 members won't follow suit, or the whole house of cards could quickly tumble under the sheer weight of customer disgust.

What do you think? Has Internode turned the G9 into hypocrites? Are current broadband plans actually too cheap after all? Drop me a line at edit@zdnet.com.au.

Topics: Networking, Mobility, NBN, Telcos


As large as the US mainland but with a smaller population than Texas, Australia relies on ICT innovation to maintain its position as a first-world democracy and a role model for the developing Asia-Pacific region. Award-winning journalist David Braue has covered Australia’s IT and telecoms sectors since 1995 – and he’s as quick to draw le... Full Bio

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