August 04, 2005 | Graham

How good is Telstra in the cities?

While the National Party is busy demanding broadband access to every homestead, along with a tar seal on the road, two new dams for every property over 1000 hectares, and reticulated water everywhere but the Simpson Desert, I wonder whether Telecoms services in the city are really up to what the Nationals would call “scratch”.
Two days ago I was demonstrating one of our products to a potential client in Ferny Grove and had to use my dial-up modem. 19 point something Kbps was all it could manage. When I first got into this game I think my modem did 9.6 Kbps. My normal dial-up speed at home in Coorparoo used to be pretty close to 56 Kbps most of the time, and with broad band it’s 512.6 Kbs.
So Ferny Grove is caught in the Internet equivalent of the 17th Century. Not that cottage industry speeds are unique to Ferny Grove. When I stay in Forster I can’t do better than 24 Kbps or thereabouts, and I’ve had the same experience in the Sydney CBD.
Perhaps it is all a plot by Telcos to force us onto broadband. If so, it could be working.
Ross Honeywell, writing in Alan Kohler’s new online financial publishing venture, Eureka Report says:

Nielsen/NetRatings data shows that, in September 2004, almost 41% of all home internet users were broadband-connected. It also shows that, compared with Britain, France, the US, Germany, Sweden and Hong Kong, Australia has the fastest growth rate of broadband penetration. (Broadband growth in Australia was 87 per cent over the 13 months to September 2004).

All very well, but that still leaves almost two-thirds using dial-up access. Where’s the equity in speeds that leave you time to do the knitting while you’re waiting for today’s graphic rich sites to download. No wonder some demographics are so under-represented in Internet usage.

Posted by Graham at 5:53 am | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. “up to scratch” was a throwaway line that stuck and got some media play
    The trouble with broadband is the term is too generic, it doesn’t specify the various types of broadband and their advantages and disadvantages.
    Telstra was going to roll out cable and optic fibre in the bush years ago but has opted for the ASDL and ASDL2+ since then which puts increasing wear on worn out copper lines.
    Now if you could get all websites to adhere to the W3C standards, there wouldn’t be a problem with graphic rich websites as you could simply turn the graphics off and increase your speed.

    Comment by Vee — August 5, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

  2. Sorry Vee – how does ADSL2 put “increasing wear on worn out copper lines.”
    I totally agree that our worn out copper infastructure that services 90% of the country is unacceptable, and that NO private company could find it viable to improve these services. The Nationals are taking a very shortsighted view (e.g. 5 years instead of 50+) if they think a little 2 billion trust fund would even acheive parity today let alone in 20 years time. ADSL2 today will be replaced with optic fibre to the door in 10 years in the cities. Our country cousins will be left far behind.
    The 2Billion trust fund is a small price for the liberals to pay to buy out the votes of a inefficent nationals senators. If thats the best the nationals can come up with well they aren’t even good at extortion anymore.
    Of course – if people are only getting 19k in ferny grove they can ring telstra and a line check will be done for free and the service improved. Quite often however, especially in a hotel room in the Syndey CBD its the old PABX system that is slowing your speed. Its not always telstras fault.
    The big question is – is selling our national communications infastructure really a good idea?
    The Department of Defence runs “secure” communications over optus satelites, which are now owned by the singapore governement (singtel) thanks to Mad Johns Crazy Australia Sale required to fund our debt fueled binge buying.

    Comment by alphacoward — August 8, 2005 @ 10:10 am

  3. How many folk realise that in Sydney just 3 kms from the GPO that apartment owners are serviced with one/pair cabling that will not carry ADSL?
    These apartments have been complete since 2000.
    Two/pair copper cabling is required for ADSL, have these apartment owners been short changed by developers and Telstra?
    The same principle is mirrored in newer residential developments in SE Qld.

    Comment by Bob Buick — August 8, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  4. Yea, I find it funny that the bush has campaign after campaign for internet access. They have funding to get satellite, a lot of rural towns have access to broadband systems.
    I live about 10km from the city of Adelaide (smack bang in the middle of surburbia), and i cant get any broadband. No ADSL (RIM, yep 28.8k), No Cable, No wireless. And when I ask Telstra about it, they say they arent going to do a damn thing, when I ask my local Federal member about it he says “Sell Telstra!”.
    I’m soon realising that if I lived in the bush I would have broadband, but because I live in the city I dont. I’ve wrote up most of my rants in my blog at I’m hoping the feds don’t stuff up the Metropolitian Broadband Blackspots Program, but with the amount of funding they have given it, its barely going to scratch the surface.

    Comment by Nigel Percy — August 8, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

  5. Selling Telstra won’t solve the problem.
    There is nothing currently stopping IINet installing their own DSLAMs into your local exchange and providing service to you without and telstra middleman.
    IINet aren’t doing it cause its not viable for them yet to service your little 1/4 acre block suburb. A privatized telstra will behave exactly the same.

    Comment by alphacoward — August 8, 2005 @ 2:07 pm

  6. TBH I don’t know the first thing about ADSL2+ but ADSL is based on the same copper wires that ran you’re phone 60 years ago, so I assume ADSL2 does too. All it is doing is prolonging the use of material thats been there for decades and decades. Many of which are “worn out” which will not get service to be fixed/patched/etc when Telstra is sold.
    So pretty much what you said AC
    The Nats are trying to separate their identity from the Libs now and get their dying vote from their “core” constituency back.
    Personally, they’re growing on me, as they’re the only party that have contributed to infrastructure recently where the Lab and Lib alike just BS at each other about what their party is doing. Nats deliver Auslink, water initiative, telstra way belatedly considering they voted for T1 and T2, even maybe the ports, I don’t live on the coast so can’t speak for them.
    $2B is chicken feed to the $30B or is it $49B?
    As far as I’m concerned, if privatisation is inevitable, the only acceptable solution is

    Comment by Vee — August 8, 2005 @ 10:42 pm

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