Telstra blogs to get RSS as feedback soars

A new Web site designed by Telstra to promote its views direct to the community has become the latest battlefield for telecommunications regulation and competition. David Havyatt While the carrier is already scoping out ways of boosting public involvement in the site -- with Really Simple Syndication (RSS) content feeds in staff blogs a top priority -- readers are seizing the opportunity to debate contentious issues in forums and talkback channels.

A new Web site designed by Telstra to promote its views direct to the community has become the latest battlefield for telecommunications regulation and competition.
David Havyatt
David Havyatt

While the carrier is already scoping out ways of boosting public involvement in the site -- with Really Simple Syndication (RSS) content feeds in staff blogs a top priority -- readers are seizing the opportunity to debate contentious issues in forums and talkback channels.

So far the opinions expressed have been extremely diverse. In response to a question asking whether the current regulatory regime was stifling the industry, one respondent said "no, it is not doing enough to further control this 51.8 percent government-owned entity."

"Telstra are not interested in providing value for money to customers. The only way Telstra can exist in a fair market is if the wholesale infrastructure is separated and government-owned."

But another reader disagreed.

"I can't see how the industry can move forward without massive changes to the industrial regulations towards Telstra. How is it fair that Telstra need to look after competing Internet service providers?" they wrote.

"If other ISPs start their own network infrastructure, we will see true competition in the field."

However, while most of the participants in the discussions opted not to list any business affiliation, AAPT's head of regulatory affairs, David Havyatt, had no qualms about making his sentiments and role known.

Havyatt made a posting on the site accusing Telstra spokesperson and blogger Rod Bruem of claiming Telstra's competitors were telling lies in a recent newspaper article. He also publicised AAPT's own opinion about the state of the telecommunications industry.

Havyatt told ZDNet Australia that Telstra's new Web site was a positive move but didn't go far enough.

While giving the carrier credit for making available forums that allow people to make unfavourable postings, Hayvatt said the site would "probably not" provide a good platform for debate over telecommunications regulation.

"The issue is that there are clearly lots of people who have just got an opinion based on personal experience or personal predilection… There's not really the methodology or space in this for reasoned debate," said Hayvatt.

Hayvatt also criticised Telstra for only allowing blogs from internal staff.

"I also note they haven't got blogs by people that aren't Telstra employees. And the subject matter in the section on speeches and reports is typically an incumbent-focused set of reports," he said. "There's a few suggestions we've got for other ones they could have put up there," he added.

Meanwhile, Telstra's Bruem said adding RSS to the blogs was a high priority for the carrier.

"We recognise that they are important and hope to add them soon," he told ZDNet Australia. "We are scoping at the moment adding those to our first upgrade to the site."

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