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Optus’ free broadband: the details

Has there been a bigger naked DSL rollout in Oz?

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Optus’ new “free broadband” offers are a little more complex than the “free” headline would have you believe.

The telco announced the offer yesterday, bundling a broadband service offering 50Gb of monthly downloads with either a smartphone or a home phone service.

The press release provided to El Reg was full of canned quotes about how generous, market-disrupting and customer-centric it has become and how it expects these new bundles to win customers by the bucketload … you get the idea.

But what the release failed to mention, as does the website about the offer, is that it is available nationally over either cable or naked DSL. If Optus decides the latter is for you, which it will if cables don't reach your premises, an Optus spokesperson said you can expect “up to ten working days” before the connection is available. Cable connections will be made “from 2 working days subject to tech and customer availability for installation,” the spokesperson said.

That might just make this the biggest push behind naked DSL yet seen in Australia.

The good news is that if you’re not an Optus customer, the telco will hook you up to its cable network for free.

No matter which connection method you use, Optus will hand you a WiFi modem. We’re not sure of the specs, but fingers crossed for 802.11n.

The broadband deals are only available while you’re an Optus customer: cancel the smartphone or home phone, and wave the broadband goodbye.

Optus won’t tell us exactly how fast the broadband service will be. The spokesperson told us the service is “… our standard retail grade broadband – there is no difference with speed or performance to the broadband on any of our other plans” and mentioned the variability one can expect with ADSL2+ speeds depending on distance from the nearest exchange. Several Optus HFC cable plans offer 20,000 kbps download speeds, so we think it is safe to assume that these “free” plans will do likewise.

On the downside, the deals count uploads and downloads against the quota. With those details in hand, the bundles look decent.

The offer first mentioned in the free broadband press release and website says “Optus customers will be rewarded with 50GB of free home broadband a month when they sign up to the $89 Timeless Mobile Plan for 24 months.” The deal promises “standard national voice calls to fixed lines and mobiles and unlimited standard national SMS” and un metered access to social networks (including MySpace, why do they bother?) and eBay. Punters can chose from the HTC One X , HTC Evo 3D, HTC Incredible S or iPhone 4S. The business version ditches the Evo 3D and Incredible S in favour of the Samsung Galaxy II or Samsung Galaxy Note.

The second offer is the “$59.95 Optus Home Advantage Plan” a deal which bundles all fixed-line telephony and 50GB of downloads into a $59.99/month plan.

For a moment there your correspondent thought that perhaps the 50GB download quota was a bit stingy, but then we checked our own home use during March and found that despite the 14 connected devices present we only used 30GB for the month. And that’s with the kids hammering the smart TV during the school holidays. ®

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