Just when you thought ISPs couldn't strip off any more costs, Internode hands us a big fig leaf...
Internode is promising its new "Ultra" ADSL2+ service provides the best of both worlds: a regular PSTN landline with rates far below what's generally available from retail telcos, as well as VoIP and ADSL2+.
It is also bundling a VoIP credit of $10 per month with each service — presumably a response to iiNet's naked DSL pricing, which includes unlimited free VoIP calls to landlines nationwide.
Although $10 doesn't sound like the value is as good, iiNet says its naked DSL customers only make — on average — about 44 free calls each month, and with VoIP rates as cheap as they are (on Internode, national calls are charged at 18c untimed), $10 will go a long way — 55 untimed national calls, to be exact, or 34 minutes of calls to mobiles.
Above: the slithering Ethernet cable of Internode Ultra tempts Adam and Eve. "C'mon! You can get naked and still have your PSTN phone line..."
The service is being provided via Optus' Huawei brand DSLAMs — Internode cannot offer it via its own Ericsson DSLAMs. However, if you are currently connected to an Internode DSLAM and want the Ultra service, Internode will cover the cost of migrating you over to an Optus DSLAM.
The ISP has also reduced signup fees to $0 for people who sign on to a 24 month contract, with a $199 fee if the service is cancelled within that time.
The plans offer 5GB for $69.95, 15GB for $79.95 or 40GB for $99.95. Internode only meters downloads, meaning its data allowance goes much further than ISPs that meter both uploads and downloads — important if you want to do P2P file sharing on your broadband connection.
Internode points out the new Ultra plans do not have line rental. That's sort of true, though Internode really just bundles it into the cost. For example, a regular ADSL2+ plan with Internode costs $84.95 for 40GB, while the Ultra equivalent costs $99.95 — a difference of $15. Telstra's cheapest line rental is $20.95, so there's some saving, but it's not exactly 'free line rental'. The big difference, though, is you don't have to pay a second bill just for line rental, and the call rates on the landline provided with Internode Ultra are among the cheapest on the market.
On the Ultra service, phone calls placed via the PSTN landline cost 20c untimed for local calls, 10c per minute for national calls, 29c per minute for mobile calls and international calls start at 15c per minute for locations including US, UK, NZ, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and most European destinations.
Of course, with Internode VoIP provided through the service, the optimal setup for Ultra would be to receive all calls via the PSTN and make all calls through VoIP. This would alleviate all possibility of callers not getting through because the VoIP service has failed to properly register with the ISP servers.