Is Telstra’s Homeline Ultimate Plan What it Seems?

No sooner does VoIP begin to permeate through to residential Australia, than Telstra ups it’s homeline budget plan from $18.50 to $19.95 and introduces new plans obviously aimed at the very consumers they recently lost or are about to lose to VoIP. Upon hearing about the new unlimited STD/Local calling plan, the first thought from us here at VoIPChoice was, “Look out the big boys are finally starting to have a go at VoIP!”. So in the interest of research we hit the Telstra website to see what was on offer from Australia’s leading telco.

Logging on to the site and looking at the “Homeline Ultimate” Plan for $89.90 per month it would seem that you get your phone line rental and all STD and Local calls included, wow that seems to be a good deal for those heavy phone users. Maybe it could drag those cost conscience heavy phone users who went to VoIP back to the PSTN network? Looking further into the fine print however began to get interesting. The “Fair Use Policy” associated with the HomeLine Plan outlines that the service can be cancelled if in any per calender month the user exceeds 300 local calls (!) or 100 long distance calls (!!). Using engin’s pricing as an industry baseline we estimate an ADSL users bill to break down something like this –

$19.95 for a HomeLine budget connection +
$9.95 for the Engin Monthly fee +
$30 worth of local calls +
$10 for Long distance calls =
A grand total of $69.90

That leaves $20 towards your broadband connection!

Well to us it looks like VoIP is still putting money back in your pocket, if you are lucky enough to be on cable or wireless your benefit is even greater! By using VoIP your not locked in to a proportion of long distance or local calls, all your calls to local/STD numbers can be just one low cost and you can call when you need as you need. And for those users who currently dont spend $89.90 per month on line rental and local/STD calls and have no benefit in switching to the Ultimate plan well the good news is that the savings from transfering to VoIP for you are potentially even greater. When compared to the lower priced telstra plans offering capped STD calls from 75 cents to $3.00 capped STD VoIP calls at just 10 cents each are very competitve. So grab your latest phone bill and do the maths to see if VoIP can put your money back in your pocket.

***Update March 2007: it has been brought to our attention that a recent update of Telstra’s terms and conditions has amended the “Fair Use Policy” to remove call volume restrictions on the Homeline Ultimate plan and have replaced them with “Legitimate use of Homeline Ultimate by residential retail customers for their own personal use will not breach our Fair Use Policy.” A definition of “Legitimate” cannot be found in the Customer Terms.***