Telstra spokesperson Craig Middleton said the company has started trialling an "enhanced" version of naked DSL where customers "have the convenience of being able to have incoming calls and make emergency calls". He named the product "Pure DSL". There is also the option to not have this ability, with traditional "Naked DSL" being offered without a dial tone. The enhanced "Pure DSL" product will not cost extra.
It's understood that Telstra is conducting the trial with the two separate product options to assess how important the ability to receive calls, or dial Triple Zero, is to customers.
Middleton believed the "Pure DSL" offering is "pretty unique in the market". The trials are only offering one plan: a 24-month ADSL2+ contract costing $59.95 per month for 25GB worth of downloads. Speeds reach a maximum of 20Mbps (8Mbps in some areas) and are slowed to 64Kbps once quota is reached. The offer is only available to "a few thousand" who request to take part, Middleton said.
Asked if BigPond would offer its "Pure DSL" product to wholesale customers, Middleton said it will be assessed at the end of the trial. "Obviously it's a competitive market out there and we're looking at ways to, a) be competitive and, b) make sure we've got products to meet the needs of our customers," Middleton said.
The trial offering is available by calling 1800 827 699. Customers who apply for the product as part of the trial will continue to be able to use the product after the trial without the need to pay for a landline connection, Middleton said.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett weighed in on Telstra's trial plans on the Whirlpool broadband forum. When asked if Internode could match the new plans, he said "only if we can do so without running at a loss".
"To date, we can't (for instance) meet the 'trial', 'naked/pure' DSL plan on Telstra port infrastructure without running at a loss," he said. "But on the other hand, it looks like none of what's happening from BigPond is currently a permanent change — it's an experiment, and at some level we need to wait for the experiment to be completed."
He believed it'd be a month or two before it becomes clear to anyone "whether this is just a set of trials or a permanent shift in the pricing from BigPond".
"In that timeframe, I don't think we can do much more than watch, wait and challenge Telstra Wholesale to review their notion of competitive access pricing, and see what happens."
Update at 3:53pm, 2 June 2010: Comment included from Internode managing director Simon Hackett.