Recent weeks have seen some immense shifts in the home broadband space in Australia. It all kicked off when Telstra announced new and surprisingly competitive plans. I say surprisingly simply because, historically speaking, Telstra’s been amongst the last of the ISPs to shift its data offerings forwards, pursuing more of the premium market (through its Next G wireless) or bundled offerings through mobile phones and landlines.
Suddenly, for less than $100, you could get 200GB of data per month, from Telstra. Competing ISPs weren’t happy, not the least because some of these prices were cheaper than they were selling wholesale to other ISPs. Many of them rely on using Telstra’s wholesale services in bulk to make their money, and if consumer rates are cheaper than wholesale rates they can’t do that.
While that plays out in the legal sphere, the other ISPs haven’t been sitting still. A week after Telstra dropped its pricing bombshell, Internode answered with plans offering 240GB. A week later iiNet announced plans with a total of 1TB (1,000GB) per month download plans. Within hours, Primus was offering 1.1TB plans, and TPG now offers a 1TB plan as well.
Storage is cheaper than it’s ever been, but it’s a fair guess that many readers won’t have that much storage space in their entire PC. So, if relatively few users have 1Tb per month to spare, is there actually value in these plans?
To an extent – and it’s even a legal extent — yes, there can be. The ISPs in question aren’t banking on every user on a 1TB plan using the whole 1TB per month. Like many services, they figure most users won’t go through that much, but they’ll get the money either way.
What 1TB does buy you is a fair amount of security in terms of getting shaped. You could download a month’s worth of legal download movies (from, say, iTunes) and still be within your cap. Stream an awful lot of video from those services that the given ISPs don’t already allow under the cap, catching up on as much free-to-air TV as you like. Obviously there’s a market of people who will never need 1TB, but if you’re sitting on a plan where you consistently get shaped for the last couple of months of your plan, and it’s close to the typical $99 price point that many of these plans go for, there’s a strong argument to say that you could be doing better.