Telstra finally released prices for its National Broadband Network packages yesterday, months after rival telecommunications providers announced their own. But the telco giant has already been criticised for charging too much and delivering too little.

The announcement came as construction on the NBN continues to roll out, with about 25,000 people now connected to the network. Dozens of areas, including the Melbourne metropolitan area, are due to be connected through the rest of the year.

However, Telsyte director of research consulting Chris Coughlan told SmartCompany this morning the deals offer better value than Telstra’s current bundle offers.

“I think these actually represent slightly better value than the current bundles on copper. In that sense, it does represent slightly better value … although perhaps lower than some competitors,” he said.

Telstra’s cheapest plan costs $80, providing 5GB of data at 25Mbps with unlimited local calls. For $90, users received 200GB of data and the same phone services.

The next plan costs $100, with 200GB of data and speeds of up to 100Mbps, with unlimited calls to local numbers and Telstra mobiles.

A $130 package earns 500GB of data, and adds unlimited STD calls, while $150 per month earns all of that plus unlimited calls to any mobile number.

A separate group of plans is also available for NBN customers who have a full Telstra home phone plan, which are available on 24-month contracts ranging from $49.95 for 50GB up to $89.95 for 500GB.

The plans have drawn criticism for being too highly priced compared to offerings from iiNet, which offers $100 for one terabyte of data, while Optus also offers similarly-themed plans for less per month.

Users on the Whirlpool forums have expressed their outrage, suggesting the plans are too highly priced — even with the inclusion of installation and a wireless modem.

But Coughlan says these plans actually represent a similar pricing structure to Telstra’s current plans, and says that while they’re on the more expensive side, they aren’t necessarily wildly expensive.

“Basically Telstra is trying to maintain a profitable market share here, where they’ve been quite successful and fundamental in the past,” he said.

“And after all, if they start losing market share very quickly, they will change.”

Coughlan also says it’s difficult to compare old prices against new ones, suggesting that Telstra has always focused on voice-based systems and then adding broadband, whereas other providers are viewing internet access as crucial and then adding VoIP services on top of that.

“I think these represent slightly better value here than the current bundles on copper, so in that sense … they are equivalent to what Telstra is already doing.”

*This article first appeared on Smart Company

Peter Fray

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