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Telstra Opening Network 108 explains that Telstra, Australia's largest phone company is being forced to open their network to competitors. The article explains that Telstra controls 99% of phone lines to Australian homes, and 75% of "the industry's sales", making them ten times as large as their biggest rival. With any luck, prices of local calls will drop quite a bit - I hear my .au friends complain about it all the time. I'm curious to hear what our Australian readers have to think of this.
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Telestra Opening Network

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  • This is possibly the best idea i have heard all

    - Jaymz, also pissed off with telstra :)
  • Yeah the other day my .com .net .org and .edu buddies were bitching about something or other.

    God what a dork.

    Note To Australians and Brits: I get free Local calls, but it doesn't matter as far as data transfer goes because of my $45 a month Cable Modem with no download charges.
  • Here's an interesting thought -- Control of the telephone network by one company doesn't necessarrily have to be a bad thing...provided the people in control aren't a bunch of crooks out to milk every last penny they can from the customers, of course. Unfortunately, Telsta seems to be this kind of company, from what I've read here. :)

    We've seen this sort of thing happen in America with cable TV providers, and local phone carriers..whenever "competition" is forced on any industry (versus natural competition), it only results in there being more companies that suck..It doesn't really fix anything, imho. Instead of having one company which sucks moderately, you'll have 3 or 4 which *all* suck severely.

    Here's an example: USWest has a virtual monopoly over telephone service in southern Arizona. You basically have no choice in who you choose for phone service. However, its a friendly monopoly -- All calls within Tucson city limits are free, and unmetered -- I can call anywhere in town I want, for free, and stay on as long as I want..this includes my ISP's dialup. :) ..and it's been that way for years..Yes, this sort of situation is rare, but it _is_ an example of how localized monopolies don't have to be a bad thing.

    Flame away, and scream bloody murder about how all monopolies are evil evil evil, and i'm unamerican and all that... (laugh) I'll continue to enjoy my $13.62/mo phone bill. :)

  • Bewdy, stone the bleedin' crows, you bonza ripper, fair suck of the sav, flammin' unreal and that's great mate :-)


    I highly approve of this development in Australian telecommunications.
  • Same applies at my parents place... From where they are, 100 km's east of the SA border in Victoria, to Ballarat, a good 220kms away, all has the same area code 03-53xxxxxx, so if that was a local call, then my olds would have been on the net a lot quicker ( I told them I would only send emails, no phone calls NOTHING....).
  • the crack in tel$tra's monoply is starting to widen , now maybe some can give us the cheap net services most other countries get . i have to pay $45aus for 200 hours a month at 56k
    thats like over $50 us dollars .because telstra owns the line the make so much money there is now incentive for them to bring new cheap technolgy
  • Concidering that Telstra is owned by the federal government (if Harradine keeps out of it...), they should release the network to other telecommunication companies. Apart from the fact that it would create jobs, Telstra's service is pathetic. We waited 2 months to have our phone connected to our new house - even when we booked it 3 months in advance! (they forgot to put the cables past the house) Competition leads to cheaper calls, better service and more options. Bring it on!!
  • "Open Telstra's lines to the others and we all win!"

    Well... Yes, it means the competition doesn't
    have to lay their own infrastructure. Less waste.

    But... Telstra laid this infrastructure. It's big.
    Very expensive. They have to maintain it. They need to recoup both their investment in the first place
    and their ongoing maintenance costs. Yet the regulatory authority tends to mandate cheap end user cost and unprohibitive access costs to the competition. I know if I were Telstra I'd be damn pissed about this situation.

  • We've got the same problem here in Canada. Bell Canada used to have a monopoly over all phone communications within our (HUGE) borders, but it was a Crown Corporation, which mean that the whole country got touchtone service at the same time. Since privatisation and deregulation, our costs have gone up (!), service has gone down (!!), and the people have gotten more pissed off.

    And the crappiest thing is, thety've still got a monopoly on local lines, because we're in the centre-spot of the de-regulation timetable ! They know that they're about to lose the local monopoly too, so they SHOULD be being nicer and nicer, but no such luck...

    I used to feel a little smug when speaking with my American friends (some of whom apparently STILL don't have touchtone-- yay free market telcos !), but there's less and less reason for smugness everyday.

    I think you're right : Huge, sparsely populated countries are not good breeding grounds for free market telcos. We're disaster areas waiting to happen.

  • There are other options. Zip (
    have a direct satellite connection to the US
    (5MBit) and you can get that for 14c/MB.

    I think once Optus get their act together and
    create some serious competition with the cable
    modems the internet costs will drop across
    the board. Telstra has a long history of keeping
    prices as high as possible until they are
    forced to price-cut due to competition.
  • Local calls here cost from 23-25 Australian cents per call, with no time limit. Telstra have tried to get calls timed but failed, it's political suicide for any Australian government. Current predictions have call charges falling to around 18 cents (some say 15) within two years. If Telstra is too awkward in the negotiations with C & W/Optus and the other competing groups, the head of the supervising body has threatened to take regulatory action. The introduction of competition into the international and national call market here has resulted in a HUGE drop in call rates over the past few years, it just goes to show how these guys were ripping us off before. I previously lived in Hong Kong for 17 years, and C&W had a cosy monopoly there until recently, they really milked the cow for all it was worth...
    The moral? Get the maximum competition in ASAP and don't think that the telecommunications companies will do ANYTHING that will cut their profits unless compelled to do so.
    Tony Page
  • Being an Australian with lots of bad experiences with Telstra, i'm not so certain this is a good idea. The idea of allowing competition on _telstras copper lines_ is good as far as price goes but very bad as far as data goes. I, and many of my friends have had consistant problems with telstra's phone lines not being able to connect at even 21600!! and telstra of course refuse to do anything because im not paying business rental rates.

    By allowing all the phone companies around here to hop onto telstras lines removes the key reason why i switched to optus' local network, it wasnt saving 5c/call (although thats nice), it was the fact that i got a decent phone line that i could actually use. Allow everyone to use the same crap lines that have been there for decades and are maintained by a company that likes to halve its support staff every 6 months and you will get rid of this 'other option' that I and many others have taken. All competition does is allow telstra to slash even more staff and lower service standards to new lows, from a net connection point of view. The ACCC really need to kick telstra up the arse in regards to their net service, a cable modem in Australia costs at the lowest $70 and you have a 100mb download cap and 35c/mb thereafter. Telstra need to flesh out a peering agreement with the backbones in the US so they aren't paying by the Mb and hence passing it on 10 fold to the rest of us.
  • Those are called community calls, where the distance is not long enough for it to be a STD call, but it is to far for a local call. I get the same thing when i have to ring a friend who is 50km away here in southern tasmania, we are both in the 03 62-xxx-xxx number prefix :(
  • by wct ( 45593 )
    For the longest time, Telstra (formerly Telecom Australia) was government owned, and had a monopoly on local and overseas/mobile calls. A few years back, overseas/mobile calls were deregulated (well, duopolied) and prices went down a bit. Now, part of Telstra's been floated, everything's been opened up, and we're only starting to reap the benefits of competitive overseas prices. Local calls have remained fixed.

    Telstra were talking about changing over to untimed calls a while back, that they claimed would actually be cheaper for the average local call (5 minutes) - obviously concerned by people spending hours on a 25c data call. This will put the brakes on that idea, based on what happened with international calls (and rightly so).

    Programming is 1% inspiration, and 99% plagiarism.
  • >to AD it's still alot cheaper.

    Compared to the US it probably is. Compared to the UK it is a lot cheaper. I lived in OZ between '75 and '86 and I still find it incredible that you could talk to someone all day for 20c (at the time ).
  • Similar thing happend in sweden a couple years ago, things have sertanly improved. Rates dived like monkeys of a burning swing. At least for long distance, sweden is just a big local-tax- zone now. Internet comes at local-tax without any subscription-fee(still has a way to go).
  • Well you could move across the Tasman, and get free local calls. Not untimed, free. Unlimited ISP connection to one of the big boys is NZ$39.99 per month.

    Every time I spent time in Oz, I particularly remember the poor quality service of Telstra.

    Where I was living, telecom were offering xDSL for NZ$79 per month, and that included the connection to their ISP. Plus, initially (now dropped) you could have a couple of tv channels too.

    From what I remember, Telecom NZ is quite keen to get in there. While their business practices leave something to be desired, they do offer a pretty good service.
  • That sounds very similar to what is being done with the electricity grid in some states over east


    As far as I can tell, the whole 'we own the pipes, you rent the usage' idea can't work for anything but data. Say some big company owns all the powerlines in your area, but allows you to choose who's power you use. So you use 120KWh of electricity, and your supplier puts in 120KWh of electricity. But how do you know you got your supplier's electricity, and not someone elses? If somebody elses supplier starts putting fluctuations into the lines, you start getting fluctuations, even though it's not your supplier. How do things like that work?

    Data, is different, as it can be packeted and seperated, ID'd and tracked. So you can mix it in the pipes, and it's all OK.

    But Telstra will never do that. Even though the ACCC has now mandated that they open up their lines, did you notice how they're already stalling? Telstra's damn good at that, and has been doing it for ages on other matters (Like the ISP charging thang)

    Telstra used to be good, and had some damn funky research labs.

    Pity. But that's nostalgia really.

  • ...because Telstra's reputation is skating on thin ice as it is, as far as I'm concerned...
  • Online services industry.
  • Ummm what is your problem ?
  • You are dead right. I couln't put my finger on it before. But you have hit the nail on the head.

    Comments /. ?

  • Having the extra competition is going to be a great thing for Australians, who up until now have had little competition in the local call market, and not a great deal more in long distance. About the only thing that has seriously challenged the (few) telcos in Australia is various online service providers introducing Voice Over IP communications, such as OzEmail Phone, which I often use myself.

    My concern is that Telstra's provision of services to third parties to resell will result in a great degradation of service for those wishing to use phone lines for data services.

    At present Telstra's PSTN network in certain suburban and country areas uses compression of voice channels when in peak usage periods in order to avoid rolling out new equipment to increase the base capacity. eg. if each street block has a 2Mbps pipe to the Telstra network, two blocks may have only 3Mbps between them, One each and one shared between them. In peak periods when this overlap is required by both blocks the Big Box on the corner starts chopping off bits and pieces to fit it all through. While this doesn't seriously degrade a voice call this is guaranteed to destroy any attempt a modem will have to communicate with the outside world.

    If Telstra starts selling of its already obviously limited bandwidth, where then is the consumer left who wishes to get online? This is obviously something that must be done in order to open up the market, but in the interim how much will Joe Net-User suffer?

  • FYI, in the US local calls are free (or at least included in the ~$15/month line fee.) You can be on the line 24/7 and it doesn't cost you any more.


  • This is a test. I am writing this in an article that has long since disappeared off the main page. Hope it doesn't offend anyone.


    If the above is blank, slashdot has implimented a "cursing" filter. Foo.

  • Well, the picture in Argentina is not so different (I always though that AU and AR are VERY similar in many social aspects). Here we have not one but 2 companies that control 49,5% of the market each, they have the SAME prices. So, let's say you want to build a ISP. You have a US$1000/month fee for a 64-128Kb line, but both telco have their own ISP (no real money is moved). So, how you compete?
    New companies are expected to start giving services by the end of the year, and I'm SURE that they will display similar prices to the current monopolies. Competition? No, nobody want's to screw up the big communications bussiness. They are all friends, they like what they have and will never risk it so nobody is going to really lower prices.
  • Telstra had non-time-charged local calls (or at least they did when I left Australia)

    BT charges per minute. This must have cost Britain an entire industry.

  • This is very good, but not there yet. I live just outside of Washington DC, and I still have only one company that I can pay for local phone service. To be honest I would pay more to get Bell out of the loop. Bring on the competition!!!!!
  • Its not Telestra, its Telstra.

    Also, they charge 25cents for an untimed local call, which is not that expensive. C&W Optus have local phone lines available to around 2.2 million people in Sydney (dunno 'bout other capital cities/states), and that costs 20cents per untimed local call.
  • Posted by Synsthe:

    Would somebody actually spell it right for once? =) It's Telstra, not Telestra

    Mark Waterous (
  • Well it's about time. I don't really care about local call charges but this may finally put pressure on them with regard to data comms costs. At the moment we pay our isp his cut and then we pay telstra for isdn rental, now admitedly the cost is coming down but it used to be that you paid almost as much to telstra as you did to the isp.

    The other problem is that telstra is a fair weather company, when things are going ok there pretty good but as soon as a problem hits they don't want to know, and it's a bit hard to go to the opposition when there really isn't one.

    We have a good uptake of technology here and while the mobile and other comm's stuff has taken off pretty well, the telstra monopoly tends to stagnate the growth in the other areas. I think this can only be a good thing.
  • Now, if only the ACCC would stop Telstra screwing everyone for IP traffic. They are charged nothing from MCI, but charge everybody else 19c/Mb incoming, 8c/Mb outgoing traffic. This means for most ISP's that the money they get from customers goes straight to Telstra - in one hand & out the other. Telstra also run a competing ISP business, BigPond, which I doubt they charge for traffic.
    (or if they do, its a token accounting book shift of funds that means nothing in real money). ISP's are forced to go throgh Telstra as it's the only provider worth a damn.
    People think Microsoft have a monopoly, they're nothing compared to Telstra.

    That being said, their level of service is pretty good and their tech support are excellent (perhaps the telephone side of Telstra could learn from the Internet side here). I think my major complaint really is that they invented ISDN, yet they resell it here so @#$#@$ expensive yet the bloody yanks get it for next to nix. Should be the other way 'round.

  • Where I live there is no choice but to go with Telstra and I've had modem disconnection problems continuously with their lines. At one stage it took more than 5 callouts and a modem connection at 2400bps with error-checking off before they even acknowledged that there was a problem.

    Some competition is well overdue...
  • Communication monopolies are no longer acceptable. It simply does not
    require much technology to move a little noise from one place to
    another. It takes only slightly more technology to move data. Each
    day wasted allowing some miserable monopoly to take profits and
    control access is another wasted day.

    At this point, I am willing to consider any alternative to my local
    phone and cable company. The place I live is populated by _only_
    130,000 people. As a result, neither the phone company or the cable
    company consider it profitable to provide more than voice media to
    myself and the other customers living here.

    I would feel privileged to pay $150 per month for continuous broadband
    access. Unfortunatly, people like myself are shut out because the
    bureaucratic monopolies can not see a means by which to profit from
    this. I am certain that given the opportunity, smaller more efficient
    providers could _earn_ enormous profits from people like myself.

    Until the Telstra's of the world are set back on their heals and told
    to start earning their revenue, nothing will change. I for one feel
    no hesitation. Monopolies _always_ breed mediocrity and waste. For
    whatever benevolence these institutions have shown, they have been
    compensated lavishly. Now is the time for change, progress and
  • Bring on the competition!!!!!

    I don't live in Australia, but I have this thing that competition is good, and I like it. I mean, who wants one big moron controlling everything?
  • Hopefully this means that 'real bandwidth' will become available.
    After all, when the same company controls ~99% of the local loop cabling, is the largest ISP (BigPond), supplies >70% data comms, and owns >70% of the pipes going overseas, how much do you think they will innovate.
    OnRamp ISDN is still ~AU$1000 installation + AU$300/mth.
    Thats a single B channel. Dont even get me started on the reliability of their services. Oh, and this is the corporation that because 49% is owned by public shareholders (thanks to our idiotic government -- other 51% still govt owned), has a 'responsibility' to gouge it's customers to keep said shareholders happy.

    Can you say horizontal and vertical monopoly? Telstra are Australia's own little MS (and are seriously in bed with them).

    I personally think they *should* have kept the local loop as a separate organisation, and have it lease access to other carriers.

    Mind you, even with all of my rabid dislike for them, they still keep my mobile phone business (decent coverage).

  • Posted by Justin:

    yes, it was my mistake. i initially thought it was telstra, as i'd seen all the australians i know type it that way :) i double-checked the story, and the headline said ``telestra'' (even though the rest of the article doesn't.

  • In the local call market here in Australia, I honestly believe that price is not the issue. We get local calls for a flat 25c. That means that a 10 hour call to your ISP costs a total of 25c.

    However, the moment that you move to data, you get slugged. For a 64k ISDN channel, expect to pay $140 per month rental, plus $135 per month capped call costs. It is vastly cheaper to get an extra phone line and use multilink ppp, but somehow the phone companies here just don't get it.

    The other area where Telstra fall down is service. Put simply, it is appalling. I wanted my phone service modified - move the connection point on the house and add an extra outlet. The Telstra service guy didn't turn up on the day, even though they had two months notice. Then when he finally did turn up, he disconnected my monitored alarm service because he didn't know what it was.

    If I had a choice of local carrier I'd switch in an instant.
  • well they must not have to pay for their traffic .. as i live in tasmania we have even more expensive isp's here .. the cheapest unlimited isp being one called microtech and not getting my self into trouble or any thing but they are so amazingly slow .. and have about a 1% chance of dialing up between 4 oclock and 10 oclock.. they are also once you dial up teh sort of speed where every 2nd page times out ..

    on the other hand i am currently using a FREE SIGN UP MONTH with bigpond ( telstra's isp ) where for the whole sum of $0 i have a free unlimited month ( 4 hour cut of period ) 56k dial up and very fast ping times and downlaods .. [ its form a harvey norman sign up for those who want to know]

    you can hardly say this is fair charging the isps so much for their traffic while offering free sign up hours on their own super fast isp

    p.s. telstra are bastards
  • I'm not entirely sure, but if you install a line these days, I think you can either pay $11 per month and have 25c calls, or a bit more for 20c calls (thats minus phone rental).
  • Telstra currently owns the infrastructure and at the same time is the largest user of that infrastructure. Anyone who wanted to compete with them would have two choices: pay billions of dollars to set up a competing infrastructure, or pay through the nose to telstra to use their wire. That's where the problem lies - Telstra has control of the thing that everyone needs to provide their service.

    What really has to happen is something along these lines: The part of Telstra that maintains the actual infrastructure has to be broken away from Telstra the service provider. The service provider side can be sold to the highest bidder, funding whatever our current bloody stupid govt. wants today. The infrastructure side really must stay in public hands - that way it's possible for them to be forced to give a certain level of service everywhere, be it the capital cities or some outstation in Arnhem Land.
    If Telstra is privatised, or is forced to compete as it is, then those expensive, non-profitable services will get dropped. They are simply too expensive for a commercial entity to support, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to (hey, it's not real competition if you handicap one player). Asking Telstra to be both commercially competitive and to provide (much needed but) expensive, unprofitable services is ridiculous.

    So break them up. It would give us Australian taxpayers some certainty in the services provided us (because of the govt. control of the infrastructure), and it would allow real competition on a completely level playing field (apologies for the cliche). And the govt. could still rake in masses of cash from charging the telco's for using their wires . . . I think it'd be a win-win situation, but even if it set Telstra the company back it'd be way better for the country, and that's far more important.

    My 2% of a Universal Currency Unit . . .

  • Telstra still act like they are the old Telecom monopoly, and with the amount of competition available they can afford to - the only real alternative for local call access is Optus, and they only have cable in the major cities.

    Hopefully this will force them to open up to competition a bit more - when I moved to Optus about a year ago they wouldn't allow you to keep your old number, although it was technically possible.

    Unfortunately because of this almost-monopoly, the fastest net connection available to most people is still about 40k on a 56k modem (if you're lucky enough to have a decent phone line) - Telstra is still the only cable modem provider (with very high prices), ISDN is even worse, and both of these are only available in some major cities...

  • Ummmm... how exactly will poor quality lines be helped. AFAIK they will just be having other people chargin you for the same lines, which really just means that you will still have the same poor quality of lines.

    Although I do agree that it is a good thing to have competition. Hopefully some other carriers will offer some but priced ISDN services as well. $300 a month for 64k ISDN is shitloads. (That is BEFORE ISP charges)

    Their customer service also ins't fanstastic. It has taken me over a week to simply change pricing structure for our ISDN connection.

    This is after it took them over a month to install the thing. Which I personally think is pretty poor service especially for busineess customers.

    My 2c
  • I am paying ~$2,000 a year ($170/month) for their cable service. It delivers well over 1Mbps and I get 500mb free a month. After that it is around 21c per megabyte. I only pay downstream, as well. I have no bitches whatsoever about that.
  • Bring it on. the more competition the better.

    A personal hope is that CWO (Cable and Wireless Optus) provide competative rates for cable modem access. Currently you pay $80 a month for a mere 200mb of data.

    You would hope that the competition would lower this to $80 for unlimited downloading or better.

    DSL is also scheduled for trialing in Australia over the next 18 months

  • I think you will find that you get much better bandwidth *and* reliability out of ISDN and router than you do out of two normal telephone lines. Also 56k is to the best of my knowledge download only so it would be useless for hosting.
  • I couldn't agree more with that, I am a major nethead, but the alternative Telco I work for doesn't have any lines avaiable in the area where I live, everything goes through BT and is split between BT, and my employer through the interconnect agreement. That means a £115.00 bill every month, and
    On the subject of Telstra's reliability, last night I tried to use my (BT) phone and there was so much Static and line noise that I couldn't even hear the operator when I phoned report the fault.
    It wasn't the phone itself though because when I unplugged it and and tried to connect through my modem, there was so much noise initially that it couldn't handshake ( 3 times in a row) then it couldn't even recognise a dial tone.
    Lousy service and stupid prices, and no real alternative, now thats what I call a Microsoft, sorry I meant Monopoly.
    You live in hope
    I live in the UK
  • Hmm - at home I have two phone lines - the standard Telstra line, and a line from C&W Optus, that connects to the cable tv system (not a cable modem, appears as a stanard alanog phone line). My 56 k mobem regularly connects at 49k or higher on either.

    Costs are the same for untimed local calls. Reliability is excellent.

  • That sounds very similar to what is being done with the electricity grid in some states over east. It sounds like a great idea, since it dramatically reduces the cost of entry to the market, and you don't have to worry about the established monopoly not letting others in.
  • You are kidding ?

    There are *only* seven million people is CH. 18 in Australia. and the Country is 50 times bigger ( bigger = MUCH higher Transmission and Infrastructure costs).

    I'm Australian. Living in Switzerland, And I used to work for Optus. ( Australia # 2 carrier) I have worked in Europe ( switzerland isn't part of euroland is it ? ) and Swiss for diAx ( The # 2 Mobile carrier ).

    The reason Switzerland does not have competive prising is the same reason that Australia has poor effective competition. Swisscom ( think Telstra ) has an almost complete monopoly of direct connect ( copper ) throughout the country. And they are not letting go.

    By freeing up the competition, in Oz and giving the other carriers access will enable price savings for the smaller carriers. ( currently Telstra charged 8 c ( 7.995 rappen ) for a connection leg ( AT EACH END) which makes a local service for a pre-selected customer cost 16 cents for Optus. If the calls cost 20. cents Optus is only making 4 cents on a preselected local call. Why would they bother ?. Bearing in mind they have to bill the customer and THEN pay telstra for the right to use the Governments Copper.

    Price fixing in most indutries by Cartels in Switzerland is the biggest ( and least talked about ) problem in this/your country. Prices will never change while they are not truely subject to market forces and demands. And controlled by the group of comapanies ( or monopolies ) that control these services.

    Etc etc etc etc.


  • Aye, Telstra in it's days as a monopoly really sucked. How's this for a horror story. We used to run a BBS and decided to setup a rotary for all our lines so all our users could use the one phone number. Instead of routing all the calls to the rotary Telstra routed them to one of our secondary lines, so we ended up with one line for our users to call in on and all the other lines hanging idle. It made us look like complete fools and took ages for them to fix it. Loads of similar stories from friends who got into the ISP business, but I digress... bring on the competition.
  • You were lucky.

    I live in the Sydney and was getting a third line put into my house (one voice, one personal modem, one work voice/modem). It took 12 months ... I eventually found out that at first the line capacity from the pole to the end of the street was full; they fixed this, but in the meantime capacity between the end of the street and the exchange filled up. They went through a big exercise in our neighbourhood installing underground cables ... I doubt this was solely related to my line request, but I spoke to the Telstra techos while they were in my street and they knew of my request. Maybe this was related to the fact that I was being a complete PITA to their customer service people at the time.

    I asked about compensation, but was told that this was only related to people who had no preexisting phone service. Hmmmm. It didn't REALLY affect me, so I kept the pressure on more for the fun of abusing Big Brother rather than a real requirement.

    It sounds pretty worthless anyway - a lot of damage was done to property in Sydney's eastern suburbs in April this year by a vicious hailstorm, and this included phone service disruption. Telstra got out of their "service guarantee" by claiming it didn't apply during periods of bad weather. Plus they don't compensate you proactively, you have to apply and be aware of your rights to make such a claim.

    Competition must be good. However, I've done programming contracts for two of Telstra's competitors, and neither seem at all efficient or well organised, so I ain't holding my breath.
  • Optus will be entering the arena later this year. I am a cable user and looking forward to the increased competition to hopefully drive down prices
  • What a load of rubbish. I don't know what company you use your phone with but I can assure you that Telstra does not allow the 25c call to a line 50+kms away. The limit is 30km and after that it is called a community rate which is charged per minute.

    The beauty of living on the outskirts of Sydney I guess... *sigh*
  • I live in an even smaller town of only 2500 people and in all honesty I can't complain about Telstra. My dial up ISP is 35 km away and I regularly connect at 48,000 or better. Not bad for a rural town still on an analogue exchange.

    For people like me the introduction of competition will not make a large difference. How could a small provider, given the same infrastructure, be able to offer a better service and still earn a reasonable profit? I'm sure that if there was a profit to be made then Telstra would have acted on it in the first place.

    It's not as if Telstra will lose out completely on this new ruling. I'm sure that these new telecos will have to pay a small commission back to Telstra. After all Telstra would be responsible for servicing and maintaining the network. With this in mind, how will this "commission" be determined? Will this see the introduction of timed local calls? If I swap to a new teleco will that mean that any service faults I report will be put at the bottom of the pile?

    If I was Telstra, any services that weren't turning a profit would be pulled like a bad tooth, roots and all. If a competing teleco wants to offer that same service then let them fork out for the instalation and servicing of equipment and lines.

    I'm not pro Telstra by any means. I jut know how I would feel if after spending millions of dollars setting up and servicing a business some beuracrat comes along and tells me to share my equipment with a competitor. And to rub salt in to the wound I would still be responsible for maintaining the equipment.
  • My father (an old radio/comms hacker from the valve

    era) tells me that telecom (what telstra *used* to be

    called) was a good telco.

    Essentially, it was set up to provide universal phone

    access within Australia, for a low price. The engineers

    ran the show, top to bottom. They had to, to do what

    they did.

    Telstra/telecom has deployed what is possibly *the* most

    advanced integrated phone network of its size anywhere

    in the world. To do that cost the Australian people many

    billions of dollars.

    So why, may I ask, is it considered Telstra's sole


    Here's what *ought* to happen:

    Keep the hardware. Sell Telstra. Set up a bandwidth

    market, where telcos can buy and sell the capacity that

    is available. Some of the money on these bandwidth bonds

    can then be put towards new hardware.

    That way:

    1) No free lunch for Telstra. We The People keep

    what we payed for.

    2) The network is still run by engineers, not


    3) Telstra competes on a level field with everyone


    Here's to dreaming ...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately, Telstra has resisted all attempts to change their USO [universal service obligation] in the rapidly changing world of telecommunications. Their current USO calls for a network capable of sustaining a 2400 connection, and a 2400 connection only. That's all you need for a voice communication. You can pay more for a line guaranteed at 9600 [fax], but its not worth it. Anything above that qualifies as icing on the cake.

    Telstra was the government department for handling the PSTN, and thats why it has a USO. It owns pretty much all the cable laid in Australia. They don't particularly want to have to service rural Australia, because they don't make any money out there, they'd rather concentrate on the urban areas of Australia.

    On the car on the way into work, I heard a soundbite on the radio - apparently Telstra have been offering local call line access to competitors for "the last 18 months".

    Eh. I work for a subsidiary of Telstra. Sometimes, its a joy being able to say "I'm sorry, Telstra only guarantee a data transfer of 2400bps. I cant do any more to help you tweak that new 56k internal winmodem"


  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a communications specialist, I've seen all sides of Telstra's network, and it's NOT a pretty sight. Personally, I think the whole customer wiring side (termination in a business premesis) needs to be scrapped and replaced in most buildings. Some of it is well over 50 years old, and still in use.

    This equipment (anything over 5 years old) was installed by Telstra (or Telecom as it was known) and most of it is just plain shocking. To expect anyone to actually figure out the junk they have installed, and connect your service without destroying some other service at the same time, is just asking for trouble. At a guess, over one tenth of all new installs do not work first time, or upset someone elses service.

    Telstra's backbone however is quite nice, and the street wiring is improving. There is still a lot of crud out there, that will not be replaced unless we go fibre, or until it fails (of course).

    ISDN is still overpriced here, although the prices are going down, they are no where near as good as they could be. Installation costs are just plain terrible. Leased lines are also way overboard. These are just some of the reasons a lot of companies are looking heavily into Wireless Technology, especially if they have large operations that are not too distantly seperated.

    Telstra are also our biggest ISP, and they charge for bandwidth like a wounded bull. At 18 cents per megabyte (or 9 cents per megabyte you SEND, if your incoming bandwidth is less than one tenth (aproxx) of your outgoing bandwidth usage) you damn well expect good service, right? Wrong, unfortunately. The Telstra international link(s) have had packet losses of over 40% on AVERAGE for the last 3 years.

    It's a step forward, but personally, I'm worried about the two steps backwards me might be taking elsewhere.

    Forgotten my password - Bugger!
  • Well in Brisbane at least, C & W Optus are starting to offer local calls.
    The big news I'm waiting for though, is affordable high bandwidth internet access. However, I feel this may be some time coming...
  • There were days when Telstra's service were quite acceptable. Once. It seems not so any more; they let down many of their customers, both Residential and Business, in both the Internet and Telco sectors.

    Unfortunately, it is in the Telstra T&C that they only have to _guarantee_ a customer (Res. or Bus.) 2400baud (yes, baud; dont start a flame war, I know the difference between bps and baud) on any phone line. Which is a real pr*ck if you like downloading stuff fast from your local ISP (oh, who inevitably buys connectivity from Telstra Internet, a 'wholly separate' entity *cough* *cough*). BUT, if you want your phone line fixed.. ring up their Support line and tell them you're a BigPond (Telstra's Home Internet service) customer, even if you aren't, and voila, spiffy new phone line that'll hold 48,000 for hours. Unless you're on a PairGain system. And don't get me started there, suffice to say that if anyone else in the street makes a phone call you get disconnected. Shit eh.

    If only they were as good as they had been.

  • Gee I have the same problem with Bell Atlantic! I guess competition might not help after all.

  • This might seem a good thing for consumers but Telstra is still mostly owned by the government. It provides an incredible amount of income for them. If they are opened up to competition and forced to lower prices, profits will fall and less money will flow through to the government. The government needs this money and the only way they are going to get it is to increase taxes.
    seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place.
  • When telstra was a monopoly, it was 100% government owned.

    Being government owned, it did not make profits as big as it does now.. The company often had to provide services that resulted in very low profit margins, particularly for services that were provided for the rural and outback of australia.

    Low profits from the rural australia didn't matter to Telstra as much as the extra votes the government would get in favor during the next election! Usually, the extended coverage and affordable costs kept the voters happy..

    Since telstra has recently started to privatize, there is growing fear that competition might actually be bad..

    To compete successfully with other tel-co's, telstra would have to cut back on spending on those low profit margin services, and divert the funds to more needed paces so that they could be used to curb competition.

    In this case, telstra might cut spending on the rural / outback service, in order to to decrease the cost of a local urban call, so that it would match the competition.

    As for now, competition is mainly in urban areas

    Luckily, telstra still remains 50% government owned, so that low profit services can still operate.. Recently 400 million dollars has been set aside for telstra to install the CDMA [] cell phone network. Why CDMA? I don't know.. we already have a GSM network covering over 90% of the population... I guess the farmers have been complaining again..

  • The guvmint should hold onto the infrastructure & sell it off like any old (radio-spectrum) bandwidth.

    Forget 'Telsta's network" let them buy parts of it like anybody else, and try to run it with their existing 'service levels'. I wonder how long they'd last?

    Stuart Fist, one of the better telecummunications columnists has said that the guvmint could raise revenue by selling domestic users the cable from the street into their home.
    This is a great idea; I could get some quality cable instead of the shite Telstra put in.

  • One difference between Australia and many other countries is the size of the local call areas. They are relatively large. For example, in Sydney, areas 50km + apart are in the same local call area.

    Having said that, I think that this decision will be good for Australian telecoms. I'm more excited about the prospect of quicker deployment of DSL and such technologies than about local calls.
  • This will be a good chance for new
    carriers like Jtel to become

  • What you have described is pretty much exactly the situation we have here in New Zealand with Telecom (NZ)

    However, I suspect we did our deregulation a little earlier and now have had significant decreases in call prices. Local calls are still free (as provided for in law) too.

    I am proud to say that I am no-longer a Telecom customer for my home service or my cell-phone service. Options at last!

    I even hear that cable modems will be available next month!

  • personally I think telstra should go back to being a public asset. At least then Telstra didn't boast of 3.x Billion dollar profits one week, and then the next sack 2000 workers. (making customer service a thing for the history books).

    I also believe that what Telstra thinks are it's assets, infact belong to every Australian since our taxes paid for it all in the first place.

    As far as I can tell (and other Australians might be able to prove me wrong here) when Telstra was Telecom it wasn't a company (no ACN number?), in fact it's my opion it was an agency and didn't act as an individual.

    Government agencys as far as I know don't own the assets their allocated, those infact belong to us the public. Therefore i don't see how telstra can claim to own that which is owned by the Australian Tax Payers, and as far as I'm concerned Telstra should be bought back and a system introduced so that telstra only breaks even, Public owned utilites/assests aren't meant to make huge profits their there to provide a service which is needed.


  • BT charges per minute. This must have cost Britain an entire industry.

    Which industry ? The per-minute charges are trivial for local calls (and all ISPs have local numbers). There are plenty of alternative telcos, some of which even have per-call or no-fee charges for local calls (though they don't apply these to ISP calls).

    The interesting aspect of the per-minute billing is the new industry of 'free' ISPs (that make there money by splitting the call charges with their teclo).

  • Rumour has it that Optus is talking with a US company with experiance in Cablemodems, about rolling out cablemodems. Sadly for me tho, my neighbourhood isn't cabled by either of the pay-tv companies (Telstra/Foxtel and Optus Cable and Wireless) It's a 20 min walk from Telstra's Perth Central exchange. I'm waiting to see what DSL prices will be like :-)
  • compare US vs AUS

    AUS: 1Mb frame or DDS link: $AU18,000 per year + $0.19 per meg (carrier and data)

    US: 1.5MB ADSL: $US60 per month unlimited traffic

    OK I'll admit this is not available to all of the US but the AUS 1MB frame is only available within 12Km of the POP (i.e. CBD of Aussie cities) outside of this you only get some expensive ISDN and some unreliable PSTN

  • I know C&W Optus have local phone lines to houses in Melbourne too (We have 2). Aparently Telstra offer 20c calls, but you need to pay extra for that (You basically come out ahead if you make x amount of local calls (60 or 120?))
  • It's as bad as everyone is saying - telstra blows.
    I live in the biggest non-capital city in australia, and I can't even get cable access. Even if I could, it would cost me $540 to install, and then $90/month. Every Mb over the limit of 200 is 33cents. Its not exactly what I'd call affordable.

    It really shits me when I hear every day about these peeps in the US with xDSL, cable, or faster, whereas I have to dial up on a fucking modem. I wonder why everything with computers is getting bigger better and faster, yet I am still stuck on the same crappy analogue line I was on years ago.

    They are *such* a monopoly - I've read many articles on how they are frequently going out of their way to crush smaller companies who try to offer competition. I can't believe this has gone on so long... I sure hope this helps to change something.

  • Carriers in Australia can't, by law, implement time-charged local calls for residential customers. Business customers are another matter, though.

    There was some talk a couple of years ago about Telstra implementing technology to tell the difference between a voice and a data call, and time charging data calls. Quite frightening, actually. Thankfully, nothing came of it.

    Back on topic, this is excellent news, but it comes too late for the mobile phone system. Australia has three sets of GSM cell towers, one belonging to each carrier, due to exactly this kind of pig-headedness on Telstra's part.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.