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TelstraClear's pay-per-minute home phone plan the death of 'free' local calling? I hope so

Wed, 30 May 2012

Breaking with sacred Kiwi tradition, TelstraClear has introduced a new plan where you don't pay a set monthly fee for a home phone line.

Rather, calls are charged at 10 cents per minute minute.

That's under a new plan called Naked Broadband+ - marketing-speak for a variation on naked broadband which is not naked at all (the term means a broadband line with no traditional phone line). Under this plan, you keep your phone line.

(The plan appears to only be available in areas where Telstraclear has unbundled - that is, moved its own gear into Telecom exchanges. The Commerce Commission recently regulated Chorus' wholesale unbundled pricing downward. A rep for TelstraClear told Keallhauled the ComCom's more-aggressive-than-anticipated price regulation was not a factor in launching Broadband+.)

"Paying" for local calls was verboten under Telecom's old Kiwishare provisions (swept away when Chorus demerged).

But of course, paying a $50 a month line rental feels very much like paying - and more so if you make most of your calls on a mobile.

As Ernie Newman once put it: "I don't want to pay $50 a month to subsidise your teenage daughters making hours of calls."

Personally, I've already switched to a naked broadband plan, and now make all my home calls either on a mobile (usually) or via Skype or Google Talk.

One commentator asked if "Broadband+" was a slippery slope toward the end of "free" local calling. I hope so.

The fibre roll-out means internet calling will become the standard - and indeed only - option over the next few years as the traditional home line goes the way of the dodo.

Meantime, it's great to see more flexibility.

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TelstraClear's pay-per-minute home phone plan the death of 'free' local calling? I hope so