BigPond broadband gets a makeover to boost subscribers

Telstra has overhauled its BigPond broadband services, introducing exclusive multimedia content for its broadband customers alongside a new multimillion dollar marketing campaign.

Announcing the changes last week, the telco said it would also be investing an additional $1 billion in improving and expanding its broadband network infrastructure, all with the aim of boosting its broadband subscriber numbers.

Telstra BigPond chief Justin Milne said the new broadband content strategy will evolve around offering its subscribers access to exclusive content not available through any other media outlet.

Among the first new content deals to be signed by the ISP is exclusive rights to the V8 Supercar series. Multimedia content from the series, which will be available online through the new-look BigPond sports channel from 15 September, will include coverage from the qualifying rounds and top 10 shootouts -- footage not available through either Foxtel pay TV or Channel Ten, Milne said.

On the music front, Milne said BigPond is looking to extend its online music channel The Basement with record labels to introduce track downloads. The Basement is a 24-hour Internet-only radio station broadcast from The Basement Club in Sydney.

BigPond will also be using its GameArena service to partner with video game console manufacturers Sony and Microsoft as their respective online gaming services are launched locally. Both manufacturers plan to launch online gaming networks in Australia around October this year.

Milne said the ISP has no plans to introduce a subscriptions model for content. All exclusive content will be unmetered, meaning access will not be included in the user’s monthly download limits.

“Our aim is to get customers,” he said. “We’re not selling content as a product, but including content to attract people to our service.”

Content will be available at a variety of streaming speeds to accommodate different types of broadband services.

To coincide with the changes to its broadband content, Telstra has also revamped the BigPond brand, introducing a refreshed BigPond logo and national TV and print advertising campaign.

Telstra says: no free ride

Responding to questions on whether the ISP would be introducing flat monthly service fees in the future, Telstra broadband group managing director Bruce Akhurst said that without download limits, light users “would have to pay more”.

“[Unlimited downloads] would mean heavy users would be subsidised,” he said.

According to Akhurst, the average revenue per broadband customer on its BigPond service is $81. In comparison, dial-up users pay an average of $24 per month.

Milne added consumers generally didn’t expect to get “unlimited petrol or beer” and instead paid for what they use.

But he admitted revenue from excess download usage now constituted between 10 and 20 per cent of the ISP’s total revenue -- giving the ISP an incentive to continue to charge excess download fees. Approximately six per cent of the ISP’s total subscribers go over their monthly download limits, he said.

In the telco’s defence, Akhurst claimed excess mobile phone usage also represented around the same level of revenue.

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