Full Spectrum: Optus 'free' broadband

Full Spectrum: Optus 'free' broadband

Summary: Despite being slapped on the wrist for its last big advertising campaign, Optus is confident that its new "free" broadband ads won't catch the eye of the industry watchdog.


Despite being slapped on the wrist for its last big advertising campaign, Optus is confident that its new "free" broadband ads won't catch the eye of the industry watchdog.

Last month, Optus unveiled a new bundle that will give customers 50GB per month of a free fixed broadband service if they sign up to a mobile plan of $89 per month.

At the same time, the company unveiled a new advertising campaign, moving away from the iconic animal theme with a bright-yellow cube.

While Optus boasted about this new campaign while announcing its annual results last week, Optus' aggressive broadband marketing has led to run-ins with the Trade Practices Act before. Optus copped $3.61 million in fines in 2010, for its ads spruiking its "Think Bigger" and "Supersonic" broadband plans. The Federal Court ruled in favour of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) claim that the ads were misleading to consumers, because it wasn't made clear that a user's bandwidth would be throttled when they went over their monthly download cap.

But Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan said that the company learned its lesson from its last battle with the ACCC, and was extra careful in devising the "free broadband" campaign.

"We've been very mindful of the lessons we've learned from that exercise, and how we've advertised. Our advertising now goes through several checks, which are even more heightened than they were before, before they go into the public domain," he said. "They have to be signed off by our legal department, as well as senior management within the organisation.

"It's such a strong offer that you wonder whether it could be true, and, I assure you, it is true."

The ACCC told ZDNet Australia that it can't comment on specific advertising campaigns, and is not in a position to provide legal advice to Optus on these ads.

What do you think? Is the new ad campaign a bit misleading?

Topics: Telcos, Government, Government AU, Optus


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • It is benefit to many customers.
  • as far as the plan goes at first i through it was missleading but if you can get the same $89 plan without the broadband then it is free broadband and there is nothing wrong with that, then as far as the advertising campaign is ok as well because it does say at the end 'free broadband on selected optus plans', so i dont see whats wrong with it, i myself think this is a smart move by optus and if i was a smaller isp & mobile provider i would of done this a long time ago
  • My wife was watching a phone ad last night and she said "Look an unlimited plan". I told her, "In australia unlimited means, you can use it up to a limit set by the phone company not to infinity."
  • Optus offered a similar deal some years ago:
    "Sign up your phone with us & receive a Free Dial-up internet service"
    Thinking a free 2nd standby account might comre in handy, we accepted.
    Two months later we checked our monthly statement to discover we were being charged extra for our (to then unused) 'Free Dial-up Service"

    We were then lied to by their reps who insisted the Free Offer had long been discontinued...an immediate check on their web page still displayed it as current.
    A typical Bait-&-Switch con job!
    Optus...NO THANKS!!!
  • Free and bundled are not the same thing.

    If they sell more than one thing, and one is free on the basis you buy the other then it is a bundle or a bonus.

    Free is when someone hands you something and you pay nothing. The ACCC should define a rule that they can offer packages, bundles and bonuses until the cows come home but if they say free, it must be genuinely free. Then maybe we'll stop seeing this ridiculous marketing lie.