Telstra to introduce unlimited NBN data plans

Users paying more than AU$99 a month will get unlimited data, with other users promised a data doubling.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Telstra CEO Andy Penn has said the company will be introducing an unlimited broadband data plan in the coming weeks, alongside a doubling of data for users who pay less than AU$99 per month.

"Later this month, we will be introducing unlimited data on our AU$99 and above plans for new and existing customers, and doubling the data allowances on other broadband plans for existing customers over the coming weeks," Penn told Telstra Investor Day on Thursday morning.

"These bundles adopt the ACCC new communication guidelines for NBN services. We have been in discussions with the ACCC regarding these guidelines and how to address the spirit of them retrospectively, and we anticipate communicating the results of this shortly."

Announced in August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Broadband Speed Claims: Industry guidance document said RSPs should advertise the speeds typically experienced during "the busy evening period", and utilise a labelling system outlining the "typical busy period speed" in the categories of basic evening speed, standard evening speed, standard plus evening speed, and premium evening speed.

The basic evening speed category would apply to 12/1Mbps NBN Ethernet Bitstream Service (NEBS); standard evening speed would involve 25/5Mbps NEBS plans with 15Mbps minimum speeds during typical busy periods; standard plus evening speed would be for 50/20Mbps NEBS services with a minimum busy period speed of 30Mbps; and premium evening speed would be for 100/40Mbps NEBS services with a minimum of 60Mbps.

Elsewhere in his speech, Penn reiterated that Telstra is expecting the rollout of the NBN to leave the company with a AU$3 billion earnings gap.

"While the current economics are challenging, I am confident that ultimately the dynamics will improve because clearly the current paradigm is unsustainable," he said.

"Due to the significant costs associated with the rollout of the NBN, wholesale broadband prices in Australia from NBN are more than doubling in the migration. NBN is currently conducting a review of its prices and it will be important in the long term that wholesale prices are set at a level which ensures affordability of broadband for all Australians."

In order to make sure it allocates the correct level of capacity, the Telstra CEO said the company has deployed automated testing in its network to measure a sample of customer speeds.

"We continually monitor traffic and adjust our CVCs to meet demand," Penn said.

"It is this testing that gives us confidence we are buying the right amount of CVCs to meet or exceed the ACCC's recently issued guidelines to RSPs."

In recent months, the company has added virtual SD-WAN to its programmable network, deployed VoLTE across Cat-M1 IoT network, and introduced Telstra Messaging built on Rich Communication Services that allows SMS, MMS, group chat, file sharing, read receipts, and voicemail messages to be audio files all within the one app.

For the full year to June 30, Telstra announced net profit of AU$3.9 billion, down 32.7 percent from AU$5.8 billion a year prior, with EBITDA up 2 percent to AU$10.7 billion, and revenue down 2.7 percent to AU$26 billion.

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