Economy

Telstra’s $0 laptop plan

SmartCompany /

A Telstra mobile broadband plan that includes a free laptop within its $99 monthly price has broken new ground, an industry expert says.

But consumers shouldn’t jump too quickly to take advantage of the offer – other telcos are likely to follow Telstra’s lead, and there might be even better deals to be had.

Telstra yesterday launched a new internet plan that offers small business owners a laptop with nothing to pay upfront if they agree to a $99 per month mobile broadband package.

The conventional part of the plan is a 36 month contract for mobile broadband on Telstra’s Next G network, including a 1GB data download allowance and mobile modem.

But on top of that, small business owners who sign up to the deal – you must have an ABN to qualify – receive a laptop to the value of $700 from selected retailers, with the option of upgrading to a more expensive model by paying the price difference.

Telstra has stolen a lead on the rest of the market with the laptop offer, according to Paul Wallbank, the founder of tech support company PC Rescue and SmartCompany Business Tech Talk blogger.

But it is likely other telcos will soon follow Telstra’s lead, potentially creating more competition and resulting in better deals for business customers.

“My advice to small business owners is hold off. I think we’ll see the likes of Vodafone and Optus matching these deals, just like they did when mobile phone handsets were first offered for free, and that could see prices come down,” Wallbank says.

He also advises business owners to have a close look at how the mobile broadband aspect of the plan compares with other options on the market. Wallbank says the 1GB download limit is likely to be the minimum a business owner will need, leaving businesses owners that exceed the allowance to pay a 25c per 1MB excess download fee.

“These excess usage fees can really catch people by surprise. The biggest business bill I’ve seen for excess usage is $25,000 in a single month. It’s not hard to do if you go over the download limit, and especially Telstra and Optus charge rates that just about make your hair fall out,” Wallbank says.

Business owners may also want to consider kicking in bit of extra money to buy a better laptop. “There are some laptops available at that $700 level, but they cut a few corners to come in at that price – if your business depends on your laptop working, it’s usually worth spending a little more,” he says.

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