Telstra’s “Faster Broadband”

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[image title=”imatejasjam” size=”thumbnail” id=”309″ align=”right” linkto=”https://irrationale2.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/imatejasjam.jpg” ]Telstra. Love them or hate them, they’re a fascinating group to watch. Since the beginnings of broadband internet, Telstra has been trying to function the same as any other business – make a product that only you can offer, convince people it’s the best thing since sliced bread, then sit back and watch the profits roll in.

Unfortunately for Telstra, this didn’t quite fit in with their corporate model – mainly due to old policies which were a hangover of the days when Telstra was a government organisation. When ADSL was introduced, Telstra was forced to allow other providers access to their copper network – the cornerstone of the Telstra empire. If they couldn’t control that, what did they have?

Now Telstra is concentrating on services which it doesn’t have to share with the other kids in the class. Namely, their Cable internet infrastructure and their 3G mobile network, NextG.

The Cable system, which has been around since the year 2000 or so in major capital cities, is much like the Optus cable network. A Hybrid Fibre/Cable network which was intended to be used as a Double-Play system – offering Cable TV and High-speed Internet connection to subscribers (Optus Cable was Triple-Play – designed to carry telephony services as well). It was originally designed with a maximum speed of 17Mbps, but could be artificially capped to slower speeds so that Telstra could offer different levels of service to their customers.

It’s about to get a speed boost to a blistering 30Mbps, around twenty times faster than a standard 1.5Mbs broadband connection, and five hundred times faster than a top-end modem connection. But there’s a twist in the tail – this 30Mbps connection is only a theoretical maximum speed to sites which are hosted in your local area. So Telstra.com would be super-speedy, but other sites and services (such as those hosted overseas) will still run at 17Mbps.

So, a super-fast internet connection which outclasses even the speediest ADSL2+ connections… but only if you don’t want to connect to the rest of the world. Kinda like buying an F1 car and only driving it up and down your driveway.

As for mobile internet, Telstra’s mobile internet offering uses an iteration of HSDPA, a 3G (third generation) mobile protocol. At the moment it’s artificially capped at 1.5Mbps (comparable to an older ADSL1 connection), and has the benifit of being mobile. It’s about to be increased to 3Mbps in rural areas and up to 6Mbps in CBD areas. Nothing shabby there.

There are even plans afoot to stretch the NextG network to around 40Mbps by the end of the decade.

So, Telstra raises the bar by offering high speed internet deployments without the restriction of single-pair copper lines.

The Problem? Download limits. The basic cable and mobile broadband plans offered by Tesltra (the ones most likely to be chosen by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average) are being offered with 200MB of included data, which on a 30Mbps cable connection would take around 50 minutes to download, with additional data costing 15 cents per megabyte.

The general story which comes around every now and then is when Dad decides to get onto the broadbandwagon, buys a basic package like the one listed above, and the kids (who are much more internet-savvy) go crazy with YouTube, streaming radio and Torrents. Next thing you know, Dad’s got an internet bill for an exorbitant amount – the largest one I’ve heard of was $880,000 or there abouts.

So there you go. Telstra prove once again that smoke and mirrors, aggressive marketing and stupid users are their core business practice.

As a final suggestion to Telstra business developers: Unlimited downloads. If you make every internet plan totally unlimited, you’ll eclipse the competition in a matter of days – I sincerely doubt that they could match your pricing without cutting their own throats.

Just a thought.

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