BigPond trumps Optus DSL entry with $29.95 broadband

BigPond has met Optus's entry in the DSL market by introducing an entry level broadband product at just $29.95 per month.

The announcement is posted to the BigPond broadband site.

The plan applies to both BigPond cable and ADSL. Along with the new $29.95 plan, Telstra said it was reducing the cost of many other plans including its unlimited download plans.

"This will allow dial-up users to economically migrate to broadband," said Justin Milne, BigPond managing director.

The new $29.95 entry plan is based on a 256Kbps download speed and 64Kbps upload. The maximum monthly download is 200MB and consumers are charged 15 cents per megabyte thereafter.

The new plan is based on a 12-month contract. The posting did not state the cost of installation.

BigPond had not responded to this publication for additional comments at the time of posting.

Meanwhile, the Telstra price cut takes some of the spotlight away from Optus which has gone live today with its DSL product, OptusNet DSL. Initially Optus was to launch it in early March, but due to the success of its DSL trial, brought the go-live date several weeks ahead of schedule.

OptusNet DSL is available in metropolitan and many regional areas of New South Wales, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Optus's entry product is the DSL Starter 300MB plan, which sells for $49.95 for existing Optus telephony customers and $69.95 stand-alone. The DSL Lite 1GB is priced at $59.95 ($79.95).

Its premium services are the DSL Unlimited 12GB for $79.95 ($99.95) and DSL Unlimited Pro 20GB for $129.95 ($159.95). The difference between the Unlimited and Unlimited Pro products is the instance when speed throttling is applied -- after 12GB is reached in the month on the Unlimited plan, and after 20GB on the Unlimited Pro plan.

Asked about BigPond's low-cost broadband offering today, an Optus spokesperson said the company intends to aggressively defend its position in the DSL market.

"We built our plans and campaign to ensure maximum flexibility in a competitive market.

"We will consider these changes to determine if any changes are required," she said.

The spokesperson added: "Optus competes on more than just price - our offers are simple, easy to understand and are transparent. We offer superior speeds, flat rate pricing (we do not charge for excess downloads) and a network customers can trust."

Struggling to keep up

BigPond's $29.95 plan has left many ISPs perplexed.

Commenting on the Whirlpool discussion group today iiNet MD Michael Malone said it would be impossible for other ISPs to match BigPond.

"The wholesale price hasn't been changed recently, and needless to say, $29.95 is considerably below the wholesale price."

Stephen Thompson from DART Internet was more succinct. "If anybody [ISP] matched it, they would be going backwards."

The new BigPond prices, including the $29.95 plan are effective from February 27, 2004.

A list can be found at www.telstra.com.au/communications/media/docs/pricing4504.pdf

(Additional reporting by Nadia Cameron.)

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