Telstra BigPond has shocked the broadband market with a surprise trial of Naked DSL broadband services.
Naked DSL is a service involving the provision of a digital subscriber line for broadband connectivity, without an analogue telephone service attached.
Many households today choose to use mobile telephony for convenience or VoIP services for cost. But Telstra has long profited from charging its broadband users line rental for a home phone, regardless of whether the user wished to run telephony over the copper wire.
Bigpond's trial offers "a few thousand" subscribers the opportunity to sign up to Naked ADSL2+ without having to pay line rental over a 24-month period.
The service, which was launched without fanfare at 2pm yesterday, was first noticed by users of the Whirlpool forum and reported on ZDnet. offers 25GB of downloads on a Naked ADSL2+ service for $59.95 per month on a 24-month contract. Subscribers that exceed the 25GB in a given month will have their service throttled.
Users need to be in ADSL-capable areas and be on Telstra's new billing system. (Telstra customer accounts are in the process of being migrated under the carrier's technology transformation project, and customers with a 13-digit account number are reportedly already on the new system.)
From a technical perspective, Telstra will provide trial subscribers a HomeLine Budget telephony service with call barring switched on.
"They will not be charged for the home phone - but there will be underlying benefits such as being able to make calls to Emergency 000 and receive incoming calls," a Telstra spokesman said.
In this sense, the trial aims to study the economics and cost models of Naked DSL, rather than assessing the performance of the technology.
The terms and conditions of the service says that subscribers must "agree not to acquire services from other carriage service providers, including using their access override code" nor "acquire a broadband service from another service provider which is provided using line sharing technology."
Call centre staff at Telstra BigPond selling the trial plans said they did not believe VoIP services represented a "carriage service provider".
Should BigPond cancel the trial or introduce formal Naked DSL plans, users will "automatically be upgraded" to a plan that is "reasonably comparable."