[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.
[image title=”australia_population_density” size=”thumbnail” id=”325″ align=”right” linkto=”https://irrationale2.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/australia_population_density.jpg” ]Australia is the “Land Of The Wide Open Spaces”. Because of the sheer distances involved, it costs an arm, leg, six puppies and your first three children per kilometer to lay cable anywhere. God’s Own Earth Mate might have almost the same amount of land-mass as the USA does, but our national population is on par with that of the state of Texas. We’re spread out, and we love it that way. The USAians by comparison are squished up close, so over there the costs of running the cable infrastructure makes more sense. There’s more customers per square mile across the entire USA that here, by a factor of twenty or more. Extrapolate that, and that means (roughly) that every kilometer of copper or fibre laid down costs we Aussie customers twenty times as much.
“But I live in a city, they live in cities too!” Sure you do. Sure they do. But we city dwellers have always subsidised our rural cobbers with their telephone service. It was that way back when what is now Telstra was part of the Federal Government’s Post Master General, so it’s been kept that way (much to the current Telstra’s constant grumbling). More than half of your phone bill goes towards the personnel and equipment that keeps our country unified over stupendously long distances, by running copper and fibre out to the ten percent of the nation’s peoples that don’t live in cities and major centres. They want the internet too!
[image title=”oldexchange” size=”thumbnail” id=”328″ align=”right” linkto=”https://irrationale2.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/oldexchange.jpg” ]In telecoms, Telstra is no 800 pound gorilla. It’s an 800 pound colic-ridden infant, irritably throwing its toys out of the pram when it doesn’t get its own way.
Whether you agree with what the government’s been doing on broadband policy or not, it’s become a hot electoral issue — things are definitely moving. There’s a fibre rollout hopefully coming to urban areas, a WiMax deployment for the bush and for everyone else, there’s the Broadband Now Web site: a site devoted to showing those in Australia’s remotest areas how they too can get connected by whatever means possible.
The whole point of the site, according to Helen Coonan et al, is to give those not in the know about their broadband options a list of providers who meet government criteria on price, speed etc (quite what’s the point of an Internet site for those who don’t have broadband to start with is beyond me, but let’s gloss over that for the moment).
Initially, when the site was set up, Telstra’s BigPond ISP didn’t make the list as it didn’t meet the criteria set down by the government: a 512Kbps download speed; a 128Kbps upload speed; a 1GB monthly data allowance; and a total cost including connection fees of not more than AU$2500 over three years.
Telstra had a word with the government about the omission. The telco didn’t like being missed off the who’s who list. They deserved to be there too, dammit, they said.