Australia’s largest telco Telstra have today announced that they they will be upgrading their existing hybrid fibre broadband network to 100Mbps.
The first city to get a complete rollout will be Melbourne, who should have access via Telstra’s cable network by Christmas.
Now as someone who lives in Melbourne, naturally I’m excited by the idea, and I know I’m on their cable network (even if I don’t use it). The problem is that coming from Telstra, there’s one thing for sure: it’s going to be expensive, probably prohibitively so, at least at first.
If Telstra prices it at the high end, but doesn’t go overboard, the flow on effects could be huge for the rest of the Australian market. A 100mbps plan at around the $100-$150 AUD mark ($66-$100 USD) would put severe pressure on existing service providers to come in cheaper with their slower products. For example, I pay $129.99 AUD ($83 USD) per month now to iiNet for an ADSL 2+ service that promises up to 24mpbs, but in practice gets 13 mpbs on a good day (it does however have a generous download limit.)
The biggest damage Telstra’s rollout will have is to the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network proposal, which is still yet to be awarded, let alone rolled out. The plan focused on providing “broadband” speeds of a minimum of 12mbps to most of Australia. Given a choice in the cities of 100mbps, or regional and country areas who are increasingly already getting access to ADSL 2 speeds already, who in their right mind is going to use the new Government subsidized network?
The irony is that Telstra said less than 12 months ago that it wasn’t economical to roll out a high speed network without Government support. Now they’re just going to kill the NBN. I’m no Telstra fan, but points yet again for predatory business practices. Although most of us probably won’t be able to afford it, having boasting rights to the network will be welcomed by many Australians as well :-)
(hat tip: TechWired Australia)