Telstra is making an industry-first move to prevent smartphone users from running up huge bills due to excessive data and internet usage.
From the beginning of next year, Telstra customers who run over their monthly data limit will no longer be hit with an excess usage rate of 25c per megabyte (or $250 per gigabyte).
Instead, the connection speed will be slowed to dial-up speeds unless the customer buys an add-on data pack (at much more reasonable rates than 25c per megabyte) to carry them through to the end of the monthly billing cycle.
The change will only apply to 'consumer' mobile accounts which people have signed up for directly on a personal basis, not business/corporate ones established under an ABN or ACN number.
However, this arrangement will apply when customers use their phones in Australia – not while roaming overseas, even though data used while in global roaming mode has to pass through Telstra's network.
Telstra will still hit you up for $15 per megabyte if you're outside of Australia, so even an everyday task like reading The Sydney Morning Herald homepage – which is 1.6MB – would cost you a whopping $24 per visit.
Within Australia, the changes mean that customers will be able ot use their mobile as a "tethered modem" for their notebook computer without worrying that their laptop will download something large in the background, resulting in a huge unexpected bill. (See: how to turn your iPhone 4 into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.)
“Our customers deserve to be able to enjoy the full capabilities of their Telstra post-paid mobiles without fear of a large, unexpected bill,” said Telstra chief financial officer John Stanhope, demonstrating what seems to be a recurring theme in large Australian corporates of admitting how annoying fees and charges are -- only after they've been removed.