Internet users in regional Victoria are being offered cable modem broadband connectivity at prices that would make the major telcos shudder.
Neighbourhood Cable is offering users in Geelong, Ballarat and Mildura a cable modem connection for $34.95 per month with a $99 connection fee.
Of course, such a cheap price comes with a catch - a monthly download limit of 250mb and a cost of 15c for every megabyte above this amount. Neighbourhood cable chief executive officer John Freeman said the megabytes are only calculated for a six hour peak period during the day.
Major telecommunications providers have cable modem plans that start at around $55 per month, and naturally their minimum download limits are over twice that of Neighbourhood cable. But for casual residential users, the pricing is a step in the right direction. Freeman said the demand for the services in regional Victoria has been explosive as users realise it is a much more tempting alternative to dial-up connectivity.
Freeman said there is no restriction on the speed of the connection, and that the network is capable of around 10 mbps. He said that Neighbourhood cable was prepared to subsidise the price of connecting - which for most cable modem installations costs users at least $300, knowing that the provider will make it back over the minimum 12 months of the contract.
Freeman was critical of the major telecommunications players that have shown little aggression when pricing their broadband services. "Too many are taking the low volume, high mark-up approach," he said. "We prefer the old retail adage - high volume, low mark-up."
He was also critical of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology, saying that it was a poor copy of cable broadband'. "While its better than not having broadband at all, its performance depends too much on how close you are to the exchange and the quality of the existing copper lines."