Telstra Releases NBN Pricing

It is probably a coincidence that Telstra chose to release its first round of NBN pricing in the same week that the network's progenitor, Kevin Rudd, chose disastrously to tilt at the windmill of the prime ministership, presumably for the final time.

While there are plenty of people who don't care much about the latter - wholesale political disengagement being what it is - there are plenty who do care strongly about the NBN, and plenty of those are Telstra customers.

Based on their new NBN pricing, one suspects that Telstra doesn't quite get it. Their NBN plans are considerably more expensive than nearly every other provider's, for what is fundamentallythe same internet service. Their entry level plans are heavily over-serviced - starting at $80 per month! - while their high-level plans are at least $20 per month more expensive than competitors, for less quota. They come closest in the mid-range, with plans that are only about $10 per month more than their closest rivals.

Now, it is one of the realities of telecommunications in Australia that unless you are a special case (government-funded, church-based or enterprise-class), Telstra is almost always more expensive than its competitors. For years they have parlayed a dominant market share into charging a higher price, contending that they also delivered a superior service. In the field of mobile communications, users pay Telstra a premium cost for a premium service - the Next G network is categorically superior to those of its competitors, in terms of both speed and coverage. Furthermore, until Optus and Vodafone switch on their new '4G' networks, Telstra's 4G rules the field.

But how will that work when they're delivering the same service as everyone else, as they will be with the NBN? Are they simply hoping that the tidal pull of an overwhelmingly familiar brand - most Australians still equate Telstra with telecommunications - will see them retain market share?