Consumers to get new broadband services

Two Aussie ISPs have signalled their intentions to take on the high-speed Internet services market with the launch of new national broadband products.

Western Australian ISP WestNet announced a deal with Telstra Wholesale this week which allows the provider to extend its ADSL broadband services from its current customer base in Western Australia to potential customers right throughout the country.

The deal will see the ISP increase its supply of DSL Layer 2 grade Internet capacity with the installation of independent bandwidth feeds in all states.

WestNet managing director Peter Brown said this will be done by replicating the ISP’s WAIX feeds in Western Australia with peering through PIPE in the eastern states, giving customers free transfer of data intrastate.

“PIPE allows free, unmetered intrastate traffic for all WestNet members. This capability is very important to local members as it provides them with access to a lot of content without affecting their download limits," he said.

Brown said the ISP currently has 40,000 customers in WA, 5000 of which use ADSL.

“We expect to reach a total of 70,000 customers over the next 12 months, 20,000 [using] ADSL," he said.

WestNet’s ADSL service will become available to customers in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia at the end of August. The ISP will also look at extending its coverage into the ACT and Tasmania “once the other states are well established,” Brown said.

WestNet recently upgraded its ADSL plans to include an increase in peak time download limits, as well as an access speed shaping option for users who exceed their download allowance. Prices start from $49 with 256Kbps download and 64Kbps upload speeds, and include 1GB of downloads per month during peak periods, and 1GB during off-peak periods (up from 500MB). Plans are also available based on 512Kbps/128Kbps and 1.5Mbps/256Kbps speeds.

Customers currently signed up to other ISPs with services based on Telstra Wholesale’s network who wish to transfer to WestNet will also be able to do so through Telstra Wholesale’s one-step customer churn process, launched in June this year. The one-step process allows end users transferring between ISPs to lodge one request with their new provider which addresses the entire process.

Chariot enters broadband race

Last week, Adelaide-based Chariot Limited also announced it aims to beef up its clout as an Internet services provider by incorporating broadband services into its business strategy.

Although the ISP has provided limited broadband services to select customers for some time, managing director Robert Horlin-Smith said the group had previously been concentrating on building up a solid base of customers for its dial-up services.

“Having this geographic base and customer network in place was essential before we could expect any significant success in strategically launching broadband services as a natural extension of our dial-up business,” he said.

Horlin-Smith said Chariot’s dial-up network was now “well entrenched”, reaching from Cairns to regional Victoria, and right throughout South Australia.

According to Horlin-Smith, Chariot expects 15 per cent of its existing customer base will transition to ADSL services from dial-up in the 2003-2004 period. Chariot currently has around 112,000 customers.

Pricing for Chariot’s ADSL services start from $49.95 per month on a 256Kbps/64Kbps plan, including 1000MB of downloads per month.