BigPond expands and cheapens its mobile wireless plans

BigPond has slashed its monthly mobile wireless plans by $20 and added two new plans that are charged on an hourly basis.

BigPond spokesperson Craig Middleton said the launch on Wednesday of the new plans was not planned to coincide with Unwired's roll-out in Melbourne on the same day.

"The timing is pure coincidence - we'd not heard of their launch plans until the weekend and our plans have been in place for months. We are not the slightest concerned about the Unwired launch, because our coverage in Melbourne is already much greater than they are proposing to unveil," he said.

Although the new offers from BigPond are an attempt to compete with other wireless providers on price, the telco insists that price is not the only factor in competition.

"While price is important, coverage is vital, and BigPond wireless broadband mobile cards offer Australia's greatest wireless broadband coverage because we have wireless broadband speeds available in all capital cities and a growing number of major regional centres, plus 'twice-dial-up' speeds for 98 percent of the population," group managing director Justin Milne said in a media release.

All the monthly plans have dropped by $20, so that the 256/64 Kbps with 200MB download allowance plan is now $49.95. The same speed offer with 1GB allowance is now $79.95. The 512/64 Kbps plan with 400MB allowance is now $79.95 and the same speed with 1GB allowance is $109.95.

The hourly cards are available in ten hours for $29.95, or 20 hours for $49.95, both at 512/64Kb/sec speeds and no download limit.

Customers on the hourly cards will be charged at 80 cents per five minutes of excess usage and customers on the monthly plans are charged at 30 cents per extra MB.

The BigPond mobile wireless card costs $299 upfront, but eligible customers who sign up during the promotional period can get up to one year of half-priced access, and $129 off the price of the wireless broadband mobile card.

Middleton said BigPond has no plans to increase the limit allowance on its monthly plans and he declined to put a number on BigPond's current mobile wireless customer base, suffice to say that "it was popular".

All BigPond wireless broadband customers will be switched over to the new 3G network when it offers equal or better coverage at no extra cost, via freely supplied mobile cards or modems.