Criticised by journalists last week for their poor mobile phone service with some scribes taking to calling the Company “Droptus” , Optus has hit back with a major broadband upgrade which the carrier claims delivers “Supersonic” broadband speeds to the home.
Optus execs are claiming many cable subscribers in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be able to connect to the Internet at 75-80 megabits per second after the No. 2 carrier competed a Docsis 3.0 upgrade to its hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) cable network.
But the new speeds are available only to cable subscribers who bundle a home phone with their broadband plan – taking a typical payment for the new service to more than $100 a month.
And an inspection of the fine print reveals that only content hosted or cached in Australia will come down the line at the new high speed: internationally hosted content will still be delivered at the old slower speeds.
Docsis is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer to what’s essentially a cable TV network.
The only problem is that Optus does not have any entertainment content deals however speculation is mounting that the Company is close to cutting a deal with Fetch TV to deliver a rival to the new Telstra T Box in Australia.
Optus’s claimed 80Mbps – if achieved – would be significantly faster than Telstra’s HFC cable offerings in Sydney and Brisbane, where Telstra has not applied Docsis 3 and its service is limited to about 30Mbps – still significantly more than it can offer via ADSL2+ copper lines.
In Melbourne, however, Telstra is the speed king with a claimed 100Mbps cable upgrade; it does not intend to extend that upgrade to other cities, presumably due to its looming deal with the Government on the fibre National Broadband Network, which will see Telstra progressively migrate cable traffic to the NBN. (Telstra will continue to use the cable network to meet its pay-TV contract with Foxtel.)
Meanwhile Optus claims its Docsis 3.0 upgrade will be available to more than 1.4 million households across the three capital cities. That’s the number of households the cable passes: only a fraction are actually connected.
Existing subscribers will need to purchase a “bolt-on” premium speed pack to get the new speeds.
Optus draws attention to its lowest priced plan cable-and-phone plan, offering 120GB of data per month for a monthly payment of $49.95. However this swells out to $106 a month, when a $20-a-month speed pack is added, along with a $29.95 “home starter cap plan” for the compulsory phone service – total cost over 24 months is $2547.56.
A new modem will cost $99 for existing subscribers according to some reports; but appears to be included in new subscriptions.