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iPhone on Telstra NextG Cap Plans – Why there is no customer loyalty

I bought the iPhone 3G in July 2008 on a 24 month contract with Telstra. At the time they refused to allow iPhone users to utilise their “Cap Plans”, and as such became the only carrier in Australia to offer iPhones without Cap plans. I signed up to the $80 per month “iPhone plan” and that includes $70 worth of calls.

As of June 26th 2009, the iPhone 3GS was released. Telstra now offer iPhones (the new or old model) on the original plans, but you can now sign up to the Cap plans. Comparing these plans at the $80 per month spend level shows:

iPhone PlanNextG Cap Plan
Minimum Monthly Spend$80$79
Included Call Value$70$450
Bonus Mobile call credit$0$100
Call rate per 30 seconds26c35c
SMS Rate25c25c

Note: For data usage you need to pay an additional cost per month if you don’t want to incur AUD$2 per Megabyte of data. This is the same for iPhone or Cap plan, so I wont compare these in this post.

As can be seen from the above data, the original iPhone plan versus the NextG Cap plans now offered on the iPhone differ significantly. Discounting the flag-fall:

  • With the iPhone plan you get 259 minutes of talking time, roughly 4.3 hours.
  • With the Cap plan you get 608 minutes of talking time, roughly 10 hours. (Not including the extra $100 credit to Telstra Mobiles).

Hopefully you can see now why the Cap plans are better value. What does one do in this situation? One would think that you could call billing, change plans to a practically exactly the same priced plan – and change over.

With the hope of a changeover, I called billing. I wouldn’t mind taking the hit of having to sign up for 24 months again, and I learned that this would be required – BUT – and there is always a but with Telstra, this wasn’t all. If I wanted to change my iPhone plan to a Cap Plan I would have to agree to the following:

  1. Sign up to the Next G cap plan for a full 24 months again
  2. Pay out my current plan (in other words pay off the iPhone)

Paying off the current plan would cost me $850 upfront, or $70 per month for the next year.

Telstra – where is the incentive to keep customers. This is not a way to show it. Had you allowed a plan change to one now offered to newcomers to the iPhone on your network, I’d still be a paying customer for another 2 years (an additional year on top of my current obligation). Money grabbing to “pay out” my current plan and THEN signing up to a full new contract is a customer loyalty killer. Next G speed and coverage be damned.

Google Maps Australia to use Yellow Pages

In a move that is a win for the end user, Sensis and Google have signed a commercial agreement to allow users to find Yellow (previously known as Yellow Pages) business listings on Google Maps.

“The agreement means Yellow™ advertisers can now potentially be found by more customers than ever before. They can be found in our print and online directories, over the phone, in a growing range of satellite navigation devices, on mobile phones, on search engines and on online mapping sites, which now includes the popular Google Maps”

Currently Google Maps in Australia uses the True Local business listings. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it misses out on the businesses who traditionally list on Yellow Pages.

In Australia it is considered a must to list your business using Yellow Pages since these are printed yearly and a copy delivered to every household (being regionally specific). The businesses who already list will automatically gain the benefit and not be charged any additional fees to appear on Google maps. With the rise of mobile devices using Google maps, such as the iPhone, the end user and the business both benefit from on the spot, realtime, and often locational based business searches.

The use of the business listings commences in the first Quarter of 2009.

Bigpond (Telstra) start selling MP3 Music

A big surprise is an announcement today that Bigpond Music (A Telstra owned service) has from today started offering tracks in MP3 format. This is a move away from the DRM windows media format that all their songs were sold as.

When Bigpond started offering music sales a few years ago I was an early adopter and purchased music from their offerings. However it soon became obvious that the windows media DRM was a difficult beast to deal with. Windows users know only too well the pain of having to rebuild/reinstall a bloated operating system; the licensing for the Bigpond music files where often lost if you rebuilt windows and did NOT backup your DRM licences.

So I took the lesser of two evils and signed up to the Apple iTunes Music Store (iTMS), where although under a DRM system the licencing was more relaxed (5 Computers, unlimited iPods, burn to CD). Apple, specifically Steve Jobs, wrote about the restrictiveness that is Digital Rights Management, and soon thereafter started offering MP3 downloads. It took the music studios to start understanding the whole premise that DRM was not where the future lay.

Fast forward to August 2008, and today Telstra’s Now We Are Talking site has announced that MP3s are now on offer from Bigpond Music. Not only are they now DRM free, but they encode at a minimum of 256Kbps and up to 320Kbps for their audio tracks. For the end user this means close to if not indistinguishable from CD audio quality. The procrastinators I know who have shunned digital music no longer have an excuse to legally purchase their music.


Pricing is the same as the iTMS being AUD$1.69 per track and a similar price for albums. Downloads for Bigpond internet customers are also uncharged for data usage. A double bonus for some.

While I think purchasing music in this fashion is a good thing for the end user; if you care about the artists you should consider Magnatune. You wont find the latest top 10 tracks there but you will find fantastic music where the artist gets a large amount of the purchase price. They also allow you to pay an amount you choose for an album, or sign up for monthly unlimited downloads and streaming.

You can start purchasing MP3 music from Bigpond Music right away. Although it is not the entire catalogue for now, this is a correct step for Telstra in the right direction. Music sales figures do not lie!

iPhone – Vodafone Australia leaves it too late

If Vodafone Australia don’t release their iPhone pricing/data or respond to my Pre-registration ASAP (and I mean by midday Wednesday only 48 hours before launch) I’m going to unfortunately have to go elsewhere.

What is the point of their pre-registration when:

  • One hears nothing back from it except a “Watch your inbox”
  • One goes into a Central Melbourne Vodafone shop and they say “We are not owned by Vodafone so don’t know about pre-registration or when the pricing is available”
  • One rings the Vodafone Connect number and can NOT find any option – menu – or area that will answer your iPhone questions
  • Optus and Vodafone 3G offerings outside Metro areas will use 900Mhz – WTF Carriers!

In fact their automated Phone system hung up on me twice and I gave up calling.

It looks like I’m going to have to go Telstra or Optus. Hmmmm. It may have to be Telstra since:

  • they have Nationwide 3G coverage using 850Mhz – iPhone supported
  • They will offer free WiFi access at their hotspots (aka any McDonalds)
  • It’s that easy to port my mobile numbers away from Vodafone

I know Telstra have yet to list their data usage pricing; but it can’t be as any worse than their previous offerings.

I will take this moment – for the first time – to note here that although I’m not a Telstra employee I currently work on their IT Transformation. So it may be in my best interest to “show company colours” around the office – and have my phone continue to work as I travel the lifts of the many Melbourne buildings.

Come on Vodafone – you will be losing a customer and $2000 a year in money spent on your services. As other bloggers and news outlets have mentioned, they are cutting it too close.

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