Telstra has quietly launched a no-frills Internet service provider under the brand ‘Belong’. It offers no-contract access to an ADSL2+ service — but without too much effort you can find cheaper deals.
Belong offers two simple plans: 70GB a month for $50, or 250GB a month for $65. Given that paying an extra $15 gets you more than three times as much data, the $50 deal looks very much like decoy pricing — an offer that exists mainly to make the costlier option look like better value. (In reality, many people will sign up for a 250GB deal but not use all that data.)
You also have to pay $99 for a modem. (There will be an activation fee of $80 in the future, but that’s being waived for launch customers.) Both uploads and downloads count towards your monthly total. If you exceed your limit, you’ll be shaped to 256Kbps for the remainder of the month. You can dump the service on 30 days notice.
Right now, the service is limited to Sydney addresses, and you need to have an existing and active Telstra line (that is, a phone line provided either by Telstra itself or via another ISP purchasing wholesale access from Telstra). The absolute cheapest offer for that Telstra itself currently has is $22.95 a month, and finding a provider offering a no-contract line could be difficult.
Those plans are much cheaper than Telstra itself, which will happily charge you $73 a month for 50GB of data on a contract plan. But there are definitely cheaper deals out there. For instance, Exetel offers unlimited ADSL2+ for $49.99 a month on a 12 month contract, or 100GB for $29.99 a month. You’re tied to a contract, but the overall cost is much lower.
iiNet has pursued a very similar two-brand strategy with its Jiva brand, but that has one key difference: it offers unlimited broadband for $79 a month. If you’re a heavy data consumer, that makes more sense than the Telstra deal (though once again Exetel is cheaper if you don’t mind the contract).
Telstra’s aborted attempt to purchase Adam Internet was widely viewed as motivated by a desire to launch a low-value brand (a Jetstar to Telstra’s Qantas, if you will). That deal hasn’t gone ahead, but Belong has. We’ve certainly seen worse plans (including those from Telstra itself), but proceed with caution and shop around. Simplicity does not necessarily equal better value.