Internet service provider TPG is considering whether to offer its popular unlimited downloads broadband plan to users on the National Broadband Network.
The low-cost ISP remains one of the few major players in the market not to publicly announce its intentions for NBN pricing and plans.
However, TPG general manager of marketing and sales Craig Levy told iTnews this week that it would look to publish detailed pricing for residents later this year, once it deemed the network was gaining higher volume.
He said the company was “looking at all our options” for NBN pricing, including an unlimited quota plan, and was planning to compete heavily on the network.
“We’re not going to be bystanders when the NBN does pickup volume,” he said. “We’re very much going to be in the game.”
TPG’s current unlimited plan is priced at $69.99 a month over an ADSL2+ service bundled with a home phone, but a similar plan on the NBN could cost more due to additional backhaul costs.
NBN retail plans released to date have peaked at terabyte quotas, with Skymesh the only provider to offer a 2 TB option.
Eftel consumer subsidiary ClubTelco, which offered an unlimited plan to all ADSL2+ users as a key selling point, removed that option in announcing its public NBN pricing this week. Its highest download quota now sits at one terabyte of downloads per month.
Eftel CEO Scott Stavretis did not return calls at the time of publication.
Dodo CEO Larry Kestelman, who plans to purchase NBN services through Eftel’s wholesale product, has also pledged to provide an unlimited offering over the fibre network.
Though he has previously told iTnews of potential changes in the price of that service, he declined to reveal this week whether the $39.90 a month plan it offers on ADSL2+ would change for an equivalent plan on the NBN.
Kestelman said offering an equivalent service was “definitely difficult but it’s something that I believe we can still do”.
TPG's Levy said the ISP's customer base - now at 567,000 fixed line customers - would provide the scale required to level out data usage between heavy users on an unlimited plans.
The company would also rely on its significant infrastructure assets, including fibre connections to approximately two-thirds of the 121 points of interconnect planned for the network, PIPE peering exchanges and the PPC-1 submarine cable connecting Australia to Guam and the US.
“Because of our network infrastructure... if anybody can do it, we can do it,” he said.
“Backhaul would be expensive... at the end of the day I don’t think they’ve got the infrastructure to support it - in the end that’s what it will come down to.”
Telsyte telecommunications analyst Chris Coughlan said unlimited plans would like be unsustainable over the NBN in the long term as users would potentially download significantly due to the fibre network’s faster speeds.
“It’s really hard to do unlimited plans because essentially you pay both for the overall volume of the data you send to and from the NBN itself, as well as the connection at the customer’s premises.
“If you’re in the market with an unlimited plan with no one else, you could run the risk of a lot of customers on those sorts of plans,” he said.
“Unless the rest of the market is with you doing that, there is a risk because you could end up with a lot of heavy utilisation customers.”
Coughlan also pointed to potential issues around network contention, causing potential slow-downs for users connected at the same point of interconnect if an unlimited carrier like TPG did not purchase sufficient bandwidth from NBN Co.
The competition watchdog last year warned service providers not to under-provision their networks, with a threat to sue those providers that could not provide the headline speed claims offered by the NBN within reason.
It would mean a service claiming 100 Mbps downlink speeds over the NBN would be required to provide 100 Mbps where reasonably able to do so.
IPTV launch plans
Separately, TPG also unveiled plans to launch its own internet protocol television service over the next two months, replacing a web-based streaming service it had previously marketed as IPTV.
The new service provides users with a set-top box based on the Android platform and offering 30 to 40 channels “depending on where you are on the network”.
Levy would not reveal pricing for the box.
It comes as a surprise to the industry, which had rumoured long-standing talks between TPG and third-party IPTV provider FetchTV, which operates services for iiNet, Internode, Adam Internet and Optus.
Levy confirmed the company was no longer talking to FetchTV.
“We’ve decided to control our own destiny and control the pieces,” Levy said of the IPTV service.