Uncapped broadband plans short on details

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 13:07 23/04/2014
Fairfax NZ
OPEN SOURCE: Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen.

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It is disappointing Telecom hasn't provided more information about how its new uncapped broadband plans will be managed, the Telecommunications Users Association (Tuanz) says.

Telecom today launched a range of "unlimited" broadband plans which do away with monthly data caps.

Tuanz chief executive Paul Brislen said the information Telecom had provided fell short of that expected by the Broadband Product Disclosure Code which came into effect last month. The voluntary code was designed to help consumers more easily compare offerings from internet providers.

Telecom's new uncapped plans start from $109 a month on copper-based ADSL and entry-level fibre "ultrafast broadband" services. A $10 discount applies if customers also have an "ultra mobile" plan with the company.

Telecom is also offering uncapped broadband on VDSL copper connections for $119 a month and on 100 megabit-per-second fibre connections for $139 a month.

Retail boss Chris Quin said Telecom might manage traffic from customers who took up the plans, "particularly at peak times", by prioritising time-sensitive services such as Skype, internet television streaming and online gaming over other services. This would ensure "the best experience possible for the greatest number of users".

Brislen said it was good to see another company offer unlimited broadband, but Telecom's plans were on the expensive side compared to those offered by Slingshot and Orcon. Major rival Vodafone does not offer uncapped broadband.

"The trick will be in the detail and unfortunately Telecom's offer summary does not spell out how it will manage traffic in any great detail, which is something of a shame because that is what the product disclosure code is supposed to be all about," Brislen said.

"If you are offering a service and you are going to manage traffic you should tell customers what it is you are going to do.

"It is that kind of detail that people who are after unlimited plans, in particular, want. That way you know what you are buying; otherwise you are a bit stuck."

Vodafone had, for example, acknowledged it could deprioritise peer-to-peer file sharing if its network was congested, Brislen said.

Telecom spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said the company would not be managing traffic on the uncapped plans straightaway.

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"We just want to reserve the right to manage it when we need to," Fullarton said.

"We don't want to make definitive statements about how that will look because we want to see how people use the plans first.

"What we can commit to is we will do what it takes to ensure the best possible experience for the greatest number of people. "

A previous experiment by Telecom in offering unlimited broadband with a dedicated pool of bandwidth failed in 2007. The company found a small proportion of customers on its "Go Large" plans used far more bandwidth than expected, draining the pool and leading many to suffer slower dial-up speeds during peak times. It then withdrew the plans.

Fullarton said Telecom had learned from that experience and was confident there would not be a repeat.

Quin said Telecom had seen demand for broadband data almost double each year.

"Over the past few years we have increased our data allowances on a regular basis to accommodate this growing demand. However, we think the time is now right for Telecom to offer a plan that gives customers the freedom to do everything they want to online without worrying about what their bill might be at the end of the month."

- Stuff

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