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broadband blues « Previous | |Next »
March 30, 2010

Internode, my ISP, has had service difficulties since last night at several exchanges across Adelaide, including the Waymouth exchange in the CBD that I am linked to. I've been without service since last night.

It's an uncharacteristic and lengthy outage for Internode. It's not a general outage as it is impacting a small number of customers distributed over a number of Internode's DSLAM infrastructure in Telstra's exchanges and requires some sort of software upgrade I have resorted to using my 3 mobile broadband as backup, for without an internet connection I'm lost: I cannot read online or post.

So it surprises me to read in The Australian that the Coalition has said that it would honour national broadband network contracts already in place, but that it would stop short of rolling out the Labor government's ambitious $43 billion fibre plan. Tony Smith, the Opposition communications spokesman, said that:

The solution is to focus a lot of government attention on areas of market failure where it’s not commercial and to step in and try to lift that service. That’s what the Opel contract was about and in many respects. I’m not saying that we would exactly revive OPEL but certainly the principles and priority that underpinned it... The other critical thing to consider is the take-up of wireless broadband. People argue it will never be as fast as fibre but I think while that’s true, it’s getting better all the time. The trade off in speed for a lot of people is in mobility. Small business in areas where I represent many of them would happily trade off capacity and a little bit of extra speed for mobility.

So we have the market solution approach in the city that leaves us in the tender clutches of Telstra, with its poor service, its expensive plans, capped speeds, anti-competition ethos, poor backhaul infrastructure and quotas. If you don't like that kind of gouging, then go mobile.

In other words the Coalition has no communications policy other than the targeted approach of the $1.9bn rural and regional broadband Opel network using wireless and wired technology and defending Telstra without structural separation. This is at a time when Internode is reducing its prices whilst retaining speed and increasing the quota allowances and so making ADSL2+ broadband cheaper.

Secondly, a market-driven process with a dominant Telstra would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived as the superfast broadband coverage would be determined not by need or social justice, or by the national interest but by profitability alone.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:10 PM | | Comments (4)


I only get cheaper prices ($10.0 discount) if I bundle my broadband with the phone.

Internode are stuck. It's the lack of alternative backhaul from the Fleurieu Peninsula to Adelaide that is the problem, and Nextgen Network wont have the backhaul blackspot program finished until early next year. So Internode are basically stuck with Telstra's shonky copper infrastructure, capped speeds (1.5Mbps.) and high prices.

This old infrastructure means a severely cut down service. It means that I have problems watching video (it continually breaks up), and I have difficulty in making use of the on-demand video services such as the ABC, which require fast, reliable connections. Nothing can or will shift until the alternative backhaul to Adelaide is built by Nextgen Networks for the NBN Co.

And the Coalition's defend Telstra's policy, would keep things as they are if they could to ensure their dominance. The only alternative according to them is for me to use their expensive Bigpond mobile broadband, in which you pay for uploads and downloads with no non-metering of ABC content. Their policy means a fast track (the city) and a slow track (the outer suburbs or urban rim) to a digital future.

I get the bundled discount plus $10.00 reduction on broadband with bigger download quotas. So my monthly bill is reduced by $20.00 and I no longer have to watch and manage my monthly quotas.

I've just managed to get back online via the Waymouth exchange. Its still a bit slow, but quicker than mobile broadband.

Presumably Internode will still use a DSLAM in Telstra's exchange in Victor Harbor, but then use Nextgen for backhaul.I understand that the Nextgen Network have started work in South Australia on the backhaul.

The Coalition says that it has a non-interventionist approach to cities and metropolitan areas, with its focus instead in rural and regional areas. it doesn’t want taxpayers underwriting the roll-out of faster broadband in metropolitan areas, which are better served by private sector investment.

So how do they plan to break Telstra's monopoly and ensure that there is competition?

Hobart is a metropolitian area. Tasmania requires alternative backhaul across Bass Strait because Telstra's backhaul monopoly means that it charges high prices and this makes broadband really expensive in Tasmania. Telstra uses its monopoly power to exclude competition in Tasmania.