Optus driving cable home

The Optus@home Internet cable service is set to make an impact on Telstra's monopoly on the high-speed access arena by offering unlimited access for a fixed monthly price.

In contrast to Telstra's new cable pricing policy released earlier this month which charges a set fee plus a rate for each MB download over 100MB, the Optus@home price plan is based on a flat-fee system.

Customers who pay on a monthly basis will pay $59.95 with a $398 connection fee, while users who sign up for 12 months will pay $69.95 a month with a $199 connection fee.

Optus@home is provided by @Home network, the joint venture between Cable & Wireless Optus and Excite@home. The service aims to be up by mid-January next year.

Optus@home director of sales, marketing, and programming John Garner said he expects the complete network to be up and running by mid 2000. Access to home units and apartments may take longer, Garner said.

Garner said that while Optus@home will target high-end users it intends to focus on the "average online family".

In the US, Garner said up to 20 per cent of established markets were now using high-speed connections to the Internet - a significant percentage of which are family users.

A spokesperson for the Telstra internet cable users group, Cameron Thomas, claimed the Optus@home service offered a number of advantages over its Telstra counterpart.

"I'll definitely be moving to Optus@home, it makes simple economic sense. Optus cable users will benefit from unlimited access, free e-mail, free newsgroups, free game servers and cheaper setup costs," Thomas said.

While access is unlimited, users who want to setup their own internal servers will be disappointed.

While Garner said the Optus@home Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) "asks" users not to setup their own servers, the fact the provider limits upstream speeds to 128Kbps, and supplies non-static IP addresses, means users will effectively be prohibited from setting up their own web and ftp servers in any case.

Garner said Optus@home's regional data centres will provide dedicated servers for users to set up their own virtual servers within the network.

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