There is a story today — which used to be more common — about someone how exceeded their 60GB monthly broadband usage allowance by 38GB and was charged 15 cents per MB or $6000 more than expected. I usually get notifications as I reach my monthly limit — which doesn’t happen too often.But even so, does it really cost Telstra anywhere near 15 cents per MB for ‘over-use’?
Well of course not or they couldn’t get away with charging people just $130 for the first 60GB — translating into .21 cents per MB — that is, over 70 times less. What they might be doing is price discriminating and charging people who use more, even more per MB than low bandwidth users. But looking at the next category down, 25GB for $90 per month (or 3.6 cents per MB) suggests that they are volume discounting. Although it is hard to tell because that 25GB plan has shaping without the $6000 bill risk that the higher one has.
So what they are price discriminating on is on the basis of inability to manage your broadband usage. They are saying that “we would like individual customers to put a huge amount of effort into keeping their usage down” in preference to “if you are having a heavy usage month we will sell you a new plan for another 60GB for $130.” This strikes me as insane because it is driving people onto smaller plans when Telstra could be just selling blocks of usage without worrying about your rate of usage. I cannot imagine there is a single customer-specific cost in too much usage even if there are network costs in it.
That said, when it gets bad enough that you can get a reporter interested, Telstra appears to save the penalty fee. As far as I am concerned this only makes my point stronger.