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Will you be able to afford an NBN broadband plan

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Telstra has released its prices for NBN broadband plans and if you want the speed the network’s evangelists are promising you have to pay for it.

The entry-level price for NBN broadband in areas of Australia, which are already hooked up, is $49.95 a month for a 25Mbps connection. That is actually SLOWER than the 30Mbps Telstra is offering right now.

Telstra says 30Mbps is maximum speed for its existing plans but that speed is not guaranteed while fibre will always provide 25Mbps download speeds and 5Mbps upload speeds.

To add voice services – or to keep voice services, we should say – it’s another $22.95 per month that brings the grand total to $72.90. With this plan users have 50GB of data per month. Telstra’s broadband plans have always required a home phone service as part of the bundle so there’s no change here.

Customers can move up to 200GB and 500GB plans – still at just 25Mbps – for $69.95 and $89.95 a month respectively.

The voice plans also go up to $89.90 a month for the Homeline Ultimate plan that provides unlimited local and STD calls and calls to Telstra mobiles for 50 cents for the first 20 minutes and $1.50 for call to all other mobiles.

On the $22.95 voice plan the local calls cost 30 cents each and calls to mobile are $3 for the first 20 minutes.

Now to move up to the 100Mbps speeds that were promised when the fibre-optic NBN became the key issue of the 2010 election it will cost an extra $10.

So that’s $59.95 (50GB), $79.95 (200GB) and $99.95 (500GB). And only if you have a Telstra full service home phone.

Kate McKenzie, Telstra’s products, pricing and marketing, has defended the plans saying the service propsitions were good value.

“Clearly we are working very hard to win lots of customers and to ensure that our subscribers keep their services with Telstra. So we will continue to work really hard on our customer service agenda,” Ms McKenzie told The Australian.

Comparison site WhistleOut has reviewed these Telstra NBN bundles along with NBN pricing from Optus and concluded customers won’t be paying more that they currently pay on existing high-speed plans in Sydney and Melbourne.

“While some of Telstra’s plans are more expensive than their existing ADSL2+ price points, both Telstra and Optus have produced plans that are in line with their existing high speed cable offerings of 100mps, providing the most accurate comparisons to today’s broadband environment,” says WhistleOut director Cameron Craig.

WhistleOut has put together a list of all the NBN plans available which can be viewed here.

And you can find out all the service providers who can connect you to the NBN here.

With the NBN, voice services will be delivered over fibre to the home. But here’s something to take note of about how the service on the NBN will differ from voice over copper. And this is coming straight from Telstra’s own FAQs.

How Telstra will install your NBN service in your home.

In the event of a power failure your digital voice service WON’T work. So customers can’t make or receive calls including emergency calls.

Telstra’s FAQ actually states in the event of a power failure customers “instead will need to rely on another service such as a mobile phone”.

You’d expect better from a $47 billion network – $36.5 billion of which will be funded by the taxpayer after the Government paid Telstra $11b for its pits and the copper network that resides within it.

The copper network will eventually be replaced by optic fibre to nearly every home in Australia.

For the record, I am currently an Optus cable customer and I get unlimited voice and 500GB per month high-speed broadband which I clocked at 94.91 Mbps today. And I get that for $109 a month. Also included for free on my plan is Optus MeTV IPTV set-top box.

The biggest criticism of the NBN has been about the cost. The $36.5 billion, if you ask NBN Co, is actually off-budget because it pays itself off.

And in strict accounting parlance any money diverted to the NBN is not classified as an expense because it is listed as a financial asset on the balance sheet.

But the money had to come from somewhere, right? Yep – $36.5 billion – no matter what accounting Jedi mind trick is put on it – came from my pocket and yours as Australian taxpayers.

According to NBN Co it’s not just about high-speed movie downloads. It’s about education, health, business and building the economy.

I look forward to being impressed. I hope we all are.

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