Internode readies high quota broadband plans

Hackett indicates "substantial" response to broadband quota battle

Internode’s managing director, Simon Hackett, has acknowledged that the service provider will provide “substantial” upgrades to its broadband plans in response to the recent influx of competitive plans with high monthly data quotas, but said it would be a few weeks until anything is announced.

“Despite having only just revised its plans a few weeks ago, Internode will indeed respond commercially to various significant changes in the marketplace since then,” Hackett told users of the Whirlpool discussion forum this week, settling heated discussion regarding the plans.

“We're currently waiting on some answers to important and relevant questions from various suppliers over the next few weeks, before we can fully determine and release our next plan revisions.”

Hackett said the plans could be offered once the provider resolves pricing agreements with Telstra Wholesale, over whose equipment Internode currently resells ADSL2+ in areas it has not installed its own DSLAMs.

The service provider won’t discuss specifics of the potential plans before they are released in order to avoid incorrect speculation or upset customers, according to Hackett.

Internode currently offers a maximum quota of 240 gigabytes per month, falling shy of the one terabyte and more plans announced in quick succession last week by iiNet, iPrimus and TPG respectively. iPrimus currently offers the highest quota plan, with 1100GB of total monthly data.

Though announced, the plans are unlikely to see significant uptake and transitions for a week or two, with TPG switching on its plans at the beginning of next month. Most of the new plans will also count upload and download data toward the quota.

iiNet, which launched the first salvo in the renewed competitive battle, will likely use the terabyte plans to replace the unlimited plans offered by former competitor, AAPT, which it purchased this month from Telecom NZ for $60 million. The telco’s chief executive, Michael Malone, told Computerworld Australia that unlimited was simply too costly to maintain for its user base and that it would be the first thing cut once AAPT users are transitioned to iiNet’s network.

“On AAPT’s cost base they lost money [on the unlimited plan]. iiNet’s cost base is a lot less than AAPT’s and they are still drastically loss-making,” he said.

Malone claimed the movement by some local ISPs to unlimited plans was an aberration as the global trend was seeing movement from unlimited plans back to capped plans.

“When you have an unlimited download environment the consumer increases their usage then the content owner and network owner bitch at each other over who is going to cover the cost of that. We don’t have that issue in Australia as the cost of incremental traffic is borne by the consumer who gets the most utility from it.”

Hackett moved to calm increasingly heated discussion in the Whirlpool thread over the speculated plans.

“Unless your personal circumstances have changed between yesterday and today such that you were happy yesterday but today you can't live without 1000GB's [sic] of downloads per month, then it seems to me that you could give Internode the benefit of the doubt for the same month or two that it took iiNet to respond to market shifts made by Internode and others,” he said.

The failure to produce the new plans is also likely to put pressure on Internode to revive its public image following a statement by Malone that the service provider wasn’t a “meaningful player” in the market. Malone later defended his comments as a discussion of “consolidation and size”, while Hackett said he had not taken offence to the statement.

However, iPrimus chief executive, Ravi Bhatia, wasn’t as impressed with the comment.

“Michael had a rush of blood to his head,” he said. “He’s like a batsman out there taking a wild swing at a delivery.

“Normally he’s a pretty balanced person but he was having an off day.”

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