Vote Link: What aspect of the Internet in Australia would you most like to see improved?

My History of Telstra: (With extra comments in brackets..)

The self regulated Australian communications industry was deregulated to allow other ‘Players’ to compete with the then Taxpayer owned Telstra.

More Competition means cheaper prices

In the name of allowing competition to force down consumer charges. (So the Government told us.. Funny thing is.. The Governments made obscene billions in profit while they operated it.. So the Government could have ‘forced down consumer prices’ anytime it had the will to do so.)

Unless there is an infastructure monopoly

So other ‘Players’ entered the market. But none of them owned the infastructure. All the copper wire and telephone exchanges are still owned by the Australian Taxpayer, but controlled by the Government Department called Telstra.

Financially Forced to install their own hardware

In the major cities, the competing ISP’s eventually install their own hardware, into Telstra exchanges. But Telstra still held a strong hardware monopoly over the other ISP’s and end users.

Lets Sell Telstra

Then John Howard in his role of Prime Mangler (Minister). Sold the Taxpayer owned Telstra. (Clever really.. he floated it on the stock market and got most of the people who already owned it to buy it back again… Are we smart or what? DUH!)

Lets sell Everything in one hit!

The sale of Telstra included the entire Australian communications infrastructure. All the exchanges, all the copper wire. Everything!

This is where things get real twisted for the Australian consumer. Telstra under it’s previous Governmental direction were highly profitable. But under control of stockholders Telstra went for the throat. ‘To maximise profit’. ‘To charge what the market could bare’.

The New Lean Mean Telstra attitude

Of course the fallout of customers was amazing. But Telstra didn’t care. With profit margins in their eyes they set about to minimise expenditure. Telstra could rationalise the loss of a few thousand customers to it’s competitors. Telstra also didn’t mind shuffling call center’s overseas to save a penny. ‘Iam you are we are Australian’ (Well not all of us it seems..)

Mobile Phones save the day

Mobile Phones and DSL internet were the big thing happening now. Telstra charges a $99 fee for every telephone line that has to be changed to DSL. But each telephone exchange must be upgraded with new hardware before DSL is available. As a result people outside of the Capital cities are mostly still without DSL.

Lets call Next G wireless broadband

So because Telstra are installing mobile phone towers everywhere. They hit on the idea of providing ‘Broadband’ via Wireless. Now they dont have to spend all that money upgrading all those exchanges to give people DSL ‘Broadband’.

And charge like wounded bulls

But Telstra being a Corporation and profit driven are not going to give the long suffering rural internet user a break are they? Nope. Wireless is available but at 3 times the cost of DSL in the cities. (Wireless connections are no where near as reliable as DSL either - Dropouts and speed fluctuations are common with Wireless.

If you dont like it..

The only other option for rural people is to use dialup. Mostly dialup can be obtained at connection speeds approaching 50 Kbps. (which is ok for dialup)

Mwahahahaha

But some people aren’t so lucky. Because Telstra (under it’s previous Government disguise) cut corners and wouldn’t spend the correct amount on upgrades and infastructure. As a result, some (way too many..) of the rural Internet users are restricted to 31.2 kbps Dialup as their only available connection option. Apparently due to ‘Non Standard’ hardware that Telstra have previously kludged into the ‘rim’ exchange.

Telstra hold all the cards

Telstra‘s only answer is that remote rural ‘rim’ exchanges aren’t due to be updraded to DSL anytime soon. Perhaps you should purchase our extremely overpriced ‘wireless’ (*cough *cough) broad (*cough) band.

Self Regulation fails

Note: Due to the Industry being Self regulated. There are no really decent ISP’s.

What Internet Connections can you get in Australia?

  • Dialup - Everywhere - Too Slow (Some rural (rim) exchanges - data connections limited to 31.2 kbps).
  • Wireless - Most Places - Next G, Too expensive, (3GB $89.95 - 10Gb $129.95) or 3G Capital Cities Only. (Vodaphone & Virgin 5GB ea $49.95)
  • DSL1 - Most Places - Some Fair Prices with good plans.
  • DSL2 - Capital Cities - Some Fair Prices with good plans.
  • Cable - Capital Cities - Some Fair Prices with good plans.
  • Sat - Everywhere - Too Expensive with High latency (slow response).

Best Price

DSL2 (DSLAM) currently offers consumers the best price for data coupled with the best performance delivery option available.

Beware the bandwidth used

Data is metered in Australia *(1). Unlimited Data plans still have a maximum data amount that the ISP’s will allow you to have. If you exceed that maximum you may have to pay access data charges or the account may be slowed down to around dialup speeds.

Select your plan carefully

Monthly Charges Vs 12/24/36 Month Plans

Locking yourself into a long term plan to obtain some short term discount is not a good idea.

Otherwise you may find yourself sometime in 2 or 3 years. Counting down the days for your plan to expire. While cursing your ISP, (and your own ignorance?) for the plan you find yourself restricted to.

This why it IS important to select the correct ISP and plan, for your needs and your budget.

  • (1): Certain premium dialup plans do have true “Unlimited” data allowances.

Major Australian ISP's: (With my findings)

  • Telstra BigPond - Australia’s ‘National Carrier’ but the most overpriced compared to other large ISP’s. Plans: Dialup; $24.95 Unlimited Hours and data with 10 Hour sessions. ADSL; Mostly Uncapped with Low data limits and transfer rates. 3GB Max Satellite plan and Uncapped; 10GB Max Wireless plan and Uncapped. Telstra users are likely to pay extra data charges on ADSL, WIRELESS and SATELLITE when they exceed their allowed data tranfer amount.

(Note Also ISDN recently replaced with expensive Wireless offering - Giving no choice for rural users)

References: Local: Life on Dialup External: Whirlpool

2012-10-29 Australian ISP

APANA is the Australian Public Access Network Association a non-profit association. The association began in 1988-1989 and was originally known as pubnet.

APANA is the oldest public computer network service and support organisation in Australia (older than many commercial Internet service providers).

APANA became a national association, divided into regions. A national Management Committee, elected by all members annually, coordinates the association’s activities; while each region is run by a Regional Committee, also elected annually by the regions members, which is responsible for day-to-day operations. The association is based around the concept of membership with each member being part of the national collective, and also (optionally) utilising services offered by a particular region of APANA (mostly based in state capital cities).

At the regional level, members provide sharing of knowledge, skills, experience, and hardware, as a co-operative endavour to provide an Internet presence without the artificially high costs of commercial providers, and also permitting otherwise unviable services (mailing lists, UUCP, Unix shell accounts, for example) at the members’ discretion.

Member support is usually available directly from other members in the region. Members of APANA can be individuals as well as other non-profit organisations. An Acceptable Usage Policy prohibits commercial use of their internal network, disallowing such websites and services being provided.

Early Networking Infrastructure

The group originated from ad-hoc experimentation with UUCP in Australia, at a time when most Open System-based computer networking relied on commercial or academic systems such as MHSnet, whose licensing and other costs put out it of reach of hobbyists of cheap UNIX systems.

Mark Gregson provided the initial UUCP gateway for news and email through an arrangement with Deakin University. His machine (vortex.pub.uu.oz.au) in Geelong Victoria, and Ronald Conron (sanix.pub.uu.oz.au) in Adelaide South Australia, made the first interstate connection sometime during 1988-1989. By 1990, the primary UUCP gateway machine became werple.pub.uu.oz.au, owned and operated by Andrew Herbert from Melbourne.

Several systems, a mixture of XENIX, SunOS, AmigaOS, Amiga Amix, Minix, and even MSDOS-based UUPC, or Waffle, would typically make 2400 bit/s dial-up modem links from every state in Australia to the primary hub system in Melbourne to poll for Email and Usenet usually twice a day, before they in turn exchanged messages with their local UUCP clients. Regardless of making a lot of expensive time-charged long-distance phone calls, the costs of the uucp net averaged out to a cost of about $40 per year per Unix system, as no other ‘artificial’ costs were involved.

There was a name change around 1989 from pubnet to APANA. APANA was Incorporated in the State of Victoria in 1991.

As the Internet infrastructure within Australia developed, by 1994 most APANA regions had acquired at least one permanent TCP/IP gateway connection that they were able to share among the members that could make the permanent modem connection. This allowed many to have their own personal Linux, FreeBSD, or other system directly and permanently connected to the Internet from their homes at ‘at cost’ rates, typically $30-50 per month, at a time when commercial alternatives were about 5-10 times the price, with volume charging, and generally only available in the capital cities. A number of members offered Public Access dial-up Unix shell and Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), a concept that was soon commercialized by many who left the non-commercial APANA to form for-profit Internet Service Provider companies.

Politically, there were large issues with those who were ‘asset stripping’ APANA in the 1995-era ‘Internet Discovery’ boom days, with accusations of APANA-bought hardware like expensive ISDN terminal adapters being ‘gifted’ to individuals who were separating to form ISPs. Where the owner/operator of a large public-access system decided to commercialize, all their dial-up users would prefer the least-effort of staying with the operator, rather than switching to a remaining APANA public access site.

The organization does provide ADSL (1 & 2) services at a national level and regional levels, using several ADSL wholesalers, along with similar 56k dialup arrangements. It was unsuccessful at securing government grants for free wireless community networking.

See:

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2008-09-20 Australian ISP

Un-employed on Dialup

I’m still trying to get a better internet connection here. Time marches on. At Clovelly the internet stays the same speed. 31.2 kbps on a good day. As low as 24 kbps on a bad day.

Wireless an alternative?

I evaluated a Telstra mobile data connection. I transfered $5 credit to my sons Next G Prepaid Telstra mobile account. We then converted the $5 to a datapack. That was 5 MB of data. (Sarcastic: Yep. Telstra are so cheap.)

Compare Next G with 2G access

So we connected to the internet using Next G via my sons Samsung A411 and the supplied usb cable.

I went and did a speed test. Average download speeds of 260 kbps was achieved.

We then connected to Telstras 2G network using my Nokia 6280 with the relevant usb cable.

145 kbps was achieved.

It suffers from 'high latency'

Higher than dialup latency was observed. :(

So a wireless 2G or 3G connection can be obtained at my location!!

But the current Telstra prices at $89 for 3GB or $129 for 10 GB are totally out of control.

But are there any decent providers?

This set me off in search of a provider (Of course.. Not Telstra..) who could also deliver services to this location.

3 Network

3 are advertising that you can get 6GB of data for $39 from the 3G network. But when I called then I was informed that since I was out of their 3G coverage area. My connections would revert to connecting to Telstras 2G network and Telstra would charge me $1.45 per megabyte. I clairified that the 6GB plan would not cover me for the Telstra data charges from a 2G tower.

Vodafone

Vodafone are advertising a 5GB plan for $49. I called Vodafone and was informed that 2G data through a vodafone 2G tower IS covered in the plan.

(I got excited)

Allphones

There is a Vodafone 2G tower at Biscuit Flat. (Just down the road) It gives a steady 2 bars into my Vodafone simmed Nokia 6280.

But then Vodafone informed me that I MUST sign up in PERSON at one of their outlets to aquire this service.

Their closest outlet is Allphones in Mt Gambier.

Shame about the 'lack of service'

I called Allphones Mt Gambier and was informed that they are currently out of stock of the Vodafone 5GB data pack plans. The told me that they had no idea when they would be in stock. They told me that Allphones head office allocates the packs. They told me thay had no idea when they would be receiving the packs from Allphones head office.

I suggested that I should maybe ring back each day to see when they are in stock?

Of course no real customer service was extended. The sales girl agreed that would be my best way of obtaining the Vodafone data pack as quickly as possible.

Shame about the 'contract conditions'

In my conversation with the Allphones sales girl. I was informed that I would need 100 points of ID to obtain the plan. (No problems..)

I told the sales girl that if this worked for me. I would advertise the connections availability for them and create a little nitch market for myself to become employed in.

Then I was informed that I would need to be working to obtain the Vodaphone plan.

At that point the conversation became heated.

I vowed to look futher into it.

Shame about Allphones

I called Allphones head office. Got thru the robot. Spoke with a lady at Allphones head office about my concerns.

She transfered me to a number that didnt answer and hung up on me.

I called Allphones head office back.

This time the lady transfered me to a Representative in South Australia. When the number finally answered. It was an answering machine that took my name and number and promised to call me back. (Edit 20/Aug/2009: So far, they never have..)

But Wireless does work!

So yes you can get 2G coverage with decent data rates through Vodafone out in the bush. Its 2 times faster than a decent dialup. (4 times faster than a rim connected dialup)

If your employed

But you gotta be employed.

Unemployed people dont get a look in. We must remain with Telstra on half speed dialup at $24 a month. (for their BEST dialup connection)

Optus wont touch us no more. (Note: They used too.. We had Optus at Greenways initially) Because we are outside the cities. Optus dont have connections through our exchanges.

Now it looks like with the other major ISP’s having the “employement” requirement in their plans.

Otherwise it's dialup hell

The unemployed in the bush become more restricted to the Telstra dialup monopoly.

Corporate interference in internet uptake?

What we have here is a Corporation who are holding back the uptake of broadband usage in this country.

Pay through the nose

Telstra only provide their satelite/cable/broadband/3G to those who can afford to pay their unreal data charges.

Telstra competitors have a field day (decade..)

The competitors see how badly Telstra treat their customers and know that they only have to be marginally better to steal away Telstra customers.

So they only provide plans that are marginally better. (Thats probably all the Telstra Wholesale prices will allow anyway)

Telstra Wholesale Ripoff

Telstra Wholesales rubs its hands together while holding data charges high to its competitors.

Nothing changes

Meanwhile, unemployed plebs can rot on (half speed) dialup forever.

(Is it just another stick to beat us with?)

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