Telstra is set to embark on a project to lure voice-only customers off the national broadband network.
The telco this morning revealed a new project codenamed “Product Hybrid” that will be led by its customer experience and transformation team.
Customer experience and transformation is one of three new divisions carved out of the former Telstra retail unit in June.
The “Product Hybrid” project is being tipped internally as a “bold … transformational opportunity to address three key strategic challenges of NBN”.
Two of those challenges are interrelated: Telstra’s desire to create “a step change in customer experience” and to “create differentiation and support [a] price premium” on NBN services.
On the latter, Telstra said it wanted - among other things - to embed “two compelling ‘Why Telstra’ proof points in the minds of customers: that of ‘instant connection’ and being ‘always on’".
Telstra already has a start in this area. Its Gateway Frontier NBN modem comes with a speed-limited backup 4G service that can be used while customers wait for their permanent NBN service to be hooked up, and again if the fixed-line NBN service goes down.
Rival Vodafone adapted the idea for its own forthcoming NBN service, offering a higher base 4G speed, though not as an outage backup.
The third NBN “strategic challenge" that Telstra is hoping to address with Product Hybrid, however, is to create an opportunity that “allows us to migrate voice-only customers off NBN”.
Telstra did not offer a reason publicly why it wanted to do so.
The telco has suffered a slow decline in its fixed-line voice business, though it kept the fall to “single-digit” figures during FY17, which it credited to a “continued focus on retention and momentum from bundling".
Transitioning voice-only customers on-net to its 4G network, however, could allow Telstra to benefit from lower cost to serve.
The telco for years has offered a fixed-line voice-like service powered by its 4G network for use in greenfields estates.
Update, 4.12pm: A Telstra spokesperson told iTnews that the capabilities of the Frontier modem are set to be expanded.
"Earlier this year we introduced the Telstra Gateway Frontier hybrid modem, designed to get customers connected in minutes using our mobile network while we complete a fixed network installation or migration to the NBN network.
"It also allows customers to get online over our mobile network if there is a fixed network disruption in their local area.
"We are now looking to evolve the Frontier to include voice support so customers have voice back-up – along with data back-up."
The spokesperson did not address a question over the plan to bring voice-only NBN users back on-net.