Westnet braces for customer price backlash


Internet service provider Westnet has experienced a barrage of online criticism over planned price increases for its broadband plans, but the company says that it has no choice if it wishes to maintain a viable service.

Details of the price rises -- which see as much as AU$20 added to the price of some broadband plans -- leaked onto the Whirlpool forum last week, and led to some current customers threatening to shift from the Perth-based ISP. The price changes -- which see most broadband plans rise by AU$5 or AU$10 a month, but offer a AU$10 discount to customers who also bundle Westnet's telephone service -- were confirmed on the company's site today.

Chris Thomas, who founded Westnet in 1994 and currently serves as research and development manager, said that while the company always anticipated some counter-reaction to the new pricing and anticipated that some customers would leave, it was a commercial necessity to alter the plans to maintain viability.

"We realised once we did this that people were going to assume that we put the prices up simply to move people onto bundles, but it wasn't like that," Thomas told CNET.com.au's sister site ZDNet Australia. Margins on broadband are slim compared to PSTN services, he said, and the latter could help offset the increased costs of providing ADSL.

Despite having officially been on holiday, Thomas said that he had spent much of last week responding to Whirlpool posts discussing the price changes.

Thomas also confirmed that the company has no plans to build its own ADSL2 network, despite having installed one experimental DSLAM to assess the technology. Westnet is, however, in active negotiation with several other providers to purchase wholesale access to ADSL2 and ADSL2+ services.

"Everyone wants to wholesale this stuff, but someone's going to have to be the customer," Thomas said. Some form of ADSL2 service should be available by year's end, he said.

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wormo posted a comment   

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eldorado posted a comment   

Hi, as a Westnet customer long term I'd seriously like to know when Chris Thomas is going to release a pensioner package because grey power is still around aND IN LARGER NUMBERS! JUST LIKE THE INCREASES IN WESTNETS CHARGES! Chris talks about slim margins, try being a pensioner and having your only source of communication to the outside world being eroded with increases that pensioners are struggling with, having recently just downgraded, next step I'am finished! no more Westnet! what message is there for us, Chris? silence I hear again and again!Take the lead and do something! show the other providers that you are right behind the Australian people by offering the only unique pensioner rates package and see the results!

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