Australia's dominant telco and ISP, Telstra, has quietly launched a budget service.
Called Belong, the service offers ADSL2+ plans at $AUD50 for 70GB/month $65 for 250GB/month. The service needs an active phone line, but Telstra says “some customers prefer to use their mobile for everything” and the service does not include voice.
A $99 modem offers 802.11 b/g/n and four ethernet ports, one of them working at Gigabit speeds.
The Australian Financial Review reports regulator the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is aware of Belong and is keeping an eye on it because Telstra enjoys vertical integration advantages no other local telco enjoys. The regulator probably remembers, as do many Australians, that Telstra has in the past sold retail internet connections for less than it sells wholesale connections to other telcos.
Belong joins iiNet's Jiva in the budget ISP space. Jiva bundles voice services, too, at $79/month.
Telstra has expressed a desire to establish Belong, or something like it, for several months. The telco's failed attempt to acquire rival ISP Adam Internet was aimed at giving it the infrastructure to do so. With that deal having fallen through, it appears Telstra has gone it alone.
Budget ISPs obviously appeal to price-sensitive punters. Belong may also be a tacit admission from Telstra that mobile data can't do the job for some of its customers, as the service seems to be aimed those who no longer use landlines for voice communications but need more downloads than are affordable, or perhaps sensible for Telstra, on its mobile networks. ®