Telstra cable customers given free speed boost as NBN delays continue
Telstra cable broadband speeds are set to double for many customers across the country as the telco abandons its long-standing monthly fee to unlock maximum speeds.
Both Telstra and Optus throttle HFC cable broadband download speeds to 50 Mbps, unless customers pay an extra $30 per month for a "Premium Speed Boost". This unlocks their cable's full potential of "up to 100 Mbps", in some cases reaching speeds of 120 Mbps.
Existing Telstra cable customers will get either a speed boost or a bill reduction after the fee is scrapped.
Telstra is finally scrapping that fee, automatically shifting all cable broadband customers to unthrottled 100-ish Mbps speeds this month. Users may need to restart their cable modem to see the speed jump.
Telstra cable customers who were paying for the speed boost will keep those speeds and see their broadband bill drop by $30 per month.
The change does not apply to Telstra's NBN customers, even if they are connected to the NBN HFC cable network.
Meanwhile, Optus "does not have any immediate plans" to follow suit at scrap its $30 p/m cable speed boost fee, according to an Optus spokesperson.
Telstra's HFC cable network is being gradually merged into the NBN, where it offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps. Meanwhile, Optus' cable network is being scrapped and most homes in Optus cable areas will be connected to the NBN via fibre to the curb; achieving similar speeds to HFC cable.
NBN is already trialing technology which can push HFC cable and FttC download speeds beyond 100 Mbps.
For now, Telstra still has has around 500,000 cable customers across the country who will benefit from free speed boost. They will all eventually be migrated to the NBN, where they will have the option to stick with Telstra or move to another internet retailer.
Telstra's move was driven in part by high demand for NBN connections in some areas, which is leading to delays, says Telstra customer value management executive Jana Kotatko.
"We’re therefore recommending our existing Telstra HFC customers in these areas hold off on ordering an NBN service until the connection times reduce," Kotatko says. "It should take some congestion out of the migration pipeline, and allow for faster connections to the NBN HFC for customers on ADSL or for those looking for a new broadband connection.
"We’ll contact our customers to let them know when the time is right to make the move to NBN."
While the 100 Mbps speed upgrade will increase the load on Telstra's cable network, Kotatko says "our engineers have carefully assessed this bandwidth upgrade and are confident, based on the current usage patterns, that we don’t expect any major congestion issues".
While the cable pricing change doesn't affect the cost or speeds of Telstra's NBN plans, one of the goals is to keep Telstra cable customers happy until the NBN reaches their door, says Finder.com.au telco analyst Alex Kidman.
"As we shift into the last phase of the NBN rollout, Telstra is trying to ensure those customers still on Telstra cable remain happy so they're more likely to stick with Telstra once the NBN grants them the choice of any internet retailer," Kidman says. "They're also getting a taste of faster 100 Mbps speeds, which means they're more inclined to want faster NBN plans.
"Of course those customers are still in for a shock when they discover that $90 per month will only get them 50 Mbps download speeds on the NBN, whereas this pricing change means right now they're getting 100 Mbps on Telstra cable for about that price."
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