Need for speed

Author: Anika Hillery

With the announcement of an upgraded fixed-line national broadband network, Telstra says its BigPond service is now ? amongst the fastest in the world?, offering some customers the ability to improve the speed of their Internet service by 300 percent at no extra charge.

The upgrade ??means faster downloads, better quality video streaming, lightning-quick web surfing and the ability to send and receive large files quickly and conveniently,? says BigPond?s Manager Director, Justin Milne. “BigPond Movie Downloads, BigPond TV On Demand and BigPond Games Shop downloads will take only minutes. For example, downloading Casablanca, a one gigabyte download which would take more than nine hours at 256kbps, can now be fully downloaded in as little as seven and a half minutes with our high-speed plans.?


BigPond claims the new high-speed network will cover around 91 percent of Australians, delivering speeds of up to 8Mbps to people connected to ADSL exchanges and up to 20Mbps for those connected to ADSL2+ (BigPond Extreme) exchanges. In tech parlance, more ?bps? (bits per second ? be it kilobits, megabits or gigabits) means more speed to do more on the Web, and while the above figures are a huge increase on current 512kbps and 1500kbps (1.5Mbps) speeds, factors such as distance from exchange, quality of copper, equipment and Internet traffic mean actual speeds will be slower than stated. In addition, the 20Mbps service will be available only to people connected to exchanges where BigPond?s competitors are also offering high connection speeds. Still, according to Milne, around half the Australian population will have access to speeds of 10?12 Mbps on ADSL2+ and up to 7Mbps on standard ADSL.

Subscription costs

Subscription costs for the new high speed services start at $40 a month and top-out at $150, with the basic plan providing 1.5Mbps speeds and 400MB downloads. Existing broadband (512kbps) customers can upgrade online to a 300 percent faster 1.5Mbps service with equivalent download restrictions to their existing plan for no extra cost.  Competitive plans exist ? and predate ? these offerings, however. Internet Service Provider iinet, for example, offers 24Mbps speeds on some plans and has a 1.5Mbps plan for $50 a month (no $120 connection fee for a 24 month contract) but with a 10GB limit.

The announcement of Telstra?s improved high speed broadband network coincides with the tenth anniversary of the launch of BigPond in 1996, and comes just six weeks after the debut of the company?s NextG 3G mobile network. There were several references to the network as being a milestone development, with Milne making the point that the Internet is now 700 times faster than it was at switch-on. Using aviation as an analogy, he said this is ?the equivalent of going from the Wright Brothers to an FA-18 in just ten years?.

BigPond ADSL Pricing (effective 10 November 2006)


Access speed/MB Allowance Preselect Price
256kbps/200MB 29.95
256pbps/BigPond Liberty (*1) 59.95
1500 kbps/400MB 39.95
1500 kbps/BigPond Liberty (see *1) 69.95
1500 kbps/25GB 99.95
High speed (see *2)/600MB 59.95
High speed (see *2)/BigPond Liberty (see *1) 89.95
High speed (see *2)/25GB 119.95
High speed (see *2)/60GB 149.95

*1. Shaped download limit of 12GB
*2. Up to 8Mbps for ADSL1 and up to 20Mbps for ADSL2