Blaming Telstra is the easy option

Blaming Telstra is the easy option

Summary: How much blame must Telstra accept for Australia's broadband blackspots?

commentary Last week your writer penned an article describing the admirable efforts of two of Adelaide's largest councils to bring broadband to their residents.

Renai LeMay, ZDNet AustraliaThe Cities of Onkaparinga and Marion collectively represent almost a quarter of a million residents ... but some 17 percent of businesses and homes may lie in broadband "blackspots".

The issue was obviously one of critical importance to ZDNet Australia readers, many of whom e-mailed your writer describing their personal broadband woes.

A common theme from readers was a frustration with Telstra, which as the nation's former monopoly telco is often the only owner of  infrastructure in their area.

"I reside in Shoalwater W.A. and our access to broadband is non-existent owing to Telstra's constant refusal to provide access for us," wrote one reader.

"Indeed Telstra are unable to advise when (if ever) we will have access. The annoying fact is that suburbs not far from where we live do have access, but not us."

Another said: "Evanston Gardens South Australia is another area without broadband, almost the entire suburb is an ADSL blackspot. It's effectively a metro area ... no cable Internet is available."

He added Telstra had stalled from March to December 2005 on an ADSL upgrade, eventually cancelling it.

"No explanation at all from Telstra about why this happened," he said.

A Marion resident who posted his comments online agreed it was Telstra's fault. "We can blame Telstra for a lot of the blackspots," he wrote.

Now these sentiments all have some validity in that Telstra certainly could provide broadband access into these areas if it so desired.

However, perhaps a more productive approach to take is to ask rival telcos why they aren't moving into broadband blackspots to grab all the customers they can.

If Telstra chooses not to service certain markets, surely the basic law of supply and demand must dictate that someone else eventually will.

This is certainly the approach that the Cities of Onkaparinga and Marion are taking ... targeting the whole telecommunications industry and not just Telstra.

After all, with all the antagonism towards Telstra, surely many customers would leap at the chance to buy from a rival provider.

How much blame must Telstra accept for Australia's broadband blackspots? Are rival telcos ignoring potential customers? Drop me a line at or post your comments below.

Topics: Broadband, Telcos, Telstra, NBN, Tech Industry

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  • Broadband blackspots - Marion

    Whilst it is fair to say blaming Telstra is easy, it should be noted that both Internode, and Adam internet have deployed in the region from the Brighton exchange. Telstra however consistently refuse to allow shared access to their RIM infrastructure. Net result... Telstra ARE to blame.
  • Are Telstra to blame

    Yes - end of story. In many blackspots they could provide broadband at modest additional cost (about $100K per community) since the optical cable trunking is already in place. They claim there are legal reasons why they cannot connect existing "copper" subscribers to the high-speed optical fibre network, but this is nonsense. The real reason is evidently that the estimated return on the investment is not high enough. And other potential ISPs can't get a look in as Telstra won't share any facilities that it is not obliged to - and it is not obliged to share new installations.
  • big pond broad band - northern victoria.

    They have refused to give us ADSL and have left us with slow wireless from a competitor [using the Government subsidy] .
  • Bigpond Broadband

    Where I am - Central Coast NSW - we can get ADSL from Telstra but I have had to go wireless for a 512K "broadband" service of distinctly patchy quality. I have put "broadband" in quotes because in the rest of the civilised world nothing less than 1.5M is considered broadband these days and I arrived a year ago from the UK where I had 3.0M. In Japan the major cities now have 1Gb/sec! The writing is on the wall for Australia - get broadband sorted or go under.
  • Bigpond Broadband - correction

    My poor brain is wandering! When I said in my last post that I could get Telstra ADSL I meant ISDN - 128K on two phone lines. If I COULD get ADSL I would be a lot happier (though still far from content).
  • A further note to add

    Upon reading this article I noted that it failed to noted that ISP's can only provide services to customer when there is available infrastructure, i.e. the physical copper cable and access to the exchange and the equipment within.

    The only people capable of granting access to these requirements are the Wholesalers, such as Telstra Wholesale and Optus Wholesale.

    It is important to note that when talk about Telstra that people can differentiate between Telstra the Wholesaler and Telstra the Reseller (BigPond).

    If restrictions are placed upon the ISP's by the Wholesaler then there is not a great deal that can be done, apart from lodging a complaint with the ACCC. Until such time that access is granted to the ISP
  • capatialism at it best

    If another provider sets up in the adsl blackspot. The day they turn their sevice on telstra will offer ADSL. SO the provide has wasted their money. it happen in canberra. one company offer wireless. telstra offer adsl when the opposition turned their service on
  • Blackspot

    Certainly Telstra has to blamed for not doing their cabling right i am one of the unfortunate ones who is in perth metro 15 kms from CBD but can't get broadband. Telstra doesn't want their competitors to get access to RIM to be upgraded to ADSL enabled.They don't even tell customer's when they will upgrade keep evenone guessing
  • Blaming Telstra is the easy option

    This issue has been discussed on MANY times. Basically Telstra uses its monopoly to deny other ISPs ports at its exchanges. I was made to wait 12 weeks by Telstra to get broadband ADSL for my business - an internet cafe, and my ISP and others said Telstra was the problem. I know that in Sydney in order to have a telephone via Optus they had to lay their own cables from the street to the house!

    Strangely, many whirlpool contributors said that if they used another ISP they had to wait but Telstra said they could do it straight away if they signed with them. Mind you I found that several ISPs were more concerned about getting you to sign a contract than telling you when it would be connected. They say it is ADSL ready, but then tell you you have to wait weeks or longer to be connected, a bit like vaporware.
  • Bash Telstra

    In our free enterprise system why should Telstra go out of their way to assist opposing companies access to Telstra's equipment only to have it used to pilfer Telsra's costomers and destroy Telstra. If the public did not support these parasitic companies I am sure Telstra would provide the required systems for the public.
  • We own it!

    Because the public paid for Telecom, oops, Telstra's infrastructure in the first place! The people are still (for now anyway) the majority owners of Telstra, why shouldnt we be able to get access to the infrastructure we own?
  • Keep up to date please.

    Please read the news and stop living in the past. The fact is the Australian Government doesn't own Telstra anymore they sold it remember?. And the new owners demand a fair go from the regulator. The opposition can look after themselves by being competitive and standing on their own two feet.
  • You silly man

    After T1 and T2 offerings, the Australian Government (ie. the Australian people) is still 50.1% majority owner of Telstra. They have announced PLANS to sell the rest, but they are still just that, PLANS.
  • Truth will out.

    Yes the Government may be a majority shareholder of Telstra at the moment, BUT, they have no say in the day to day running of the Company. Sol does that and I do not think he is disposed to let others eat his lunch.
  • Disclosure?

    Sounds like you are a Telstra shareholder.
    Why should those who own shares in Telstra be the only ones to profit from infrastructure paid for by the taxpayers of Australia?
    Why shouldn't alternate companies get access to this last mile infrastructure, so that those who paid for it in the first place (the people of Australia) get choice and the lower prices that competition brings?
  • Fair go.

    Cosmo, be reasonable. When you sell something it goes. If the Government wanted to to keep the copper cables they should have informed the Australian public during T! and T2. They did not, therefore when I invested in T2 I did so with the knowledge that the ownership of these copper cables went with the sale. Anyhow if the Government was fairdinkum they would devide their 51% and give them to every man, woman and child in Australia for free. How can they sell us something we already own?.
  • Re: Fair Go

    You wrote: "How can they sell us something we already own?."

    Couldn't have argued better myself.

    Me thinks you are p1ssed because you bought T2 shares that are now worth ~ 40% less than when they were issued.

    You seem to hate competition, were you happier in the days of 256k "broadband" for $70-$80 a month?

    Or maybe you were a lover of the 80s, and the thousand dollar domestic flights?

    Yeah, competition really bites, doesn't it.

    What were you told about the copper local loop when you bought T2?? Did you do any due dilligence and realise that it was still subject to rulings by the regulatory authorities?? Probably not...
  • Big fan.

    Enjoyed the discourse with you Cosmo truth is I can't get mad with you as I was your number 1 for years. Also adore Elaine, George and of course Seinfeld.
  • Re:Big Fan

    These pretzels are making me thirsty!
  • But Why?

    So, we've been harassing Telstra for a long while now. My theory is to waste the time (and therefore money) and Bigpond customer services, and then in the end they will realise that it will be cheaper to put in ADSL rather than spending the money on dealing with annoying customers. That's my theory anyway.

    So why do we blame Telstra? Well, we had a meeting with somebody from Telstra. It was a community meeting, and anybody could attend (people in the Onkaparinga area keep your eyes on your mailbox for the Neighbourhood Watch newsletter and details of the next meeting - this group often have a lot to do with ADSL). Well all that we were told is that we WILL have broadband access sometime, but it will be wireless 3G. Not only is it expensive but, in my opinion, it's crap. He told us that the 3G coverage will be the same as the present Telstra CDMA network. Well I get better signal on my Revolution Telecom mobile phone than my mate does on his Telstra CDMA phone.

    In short, I do agree with the article, but I also think that Telstra could do something. We were told that the problem lays not with the exchange, but with the cabling and Pair Gain/RIM. Apparently, we're too far from the exchange to be able to get ADSL. He also told us that out on Kangaroo Island (which is further from their exchange than we are from ours) they can get ADSL.

    If you want to make a difference, talk to everyone. Ask everyone. And people in the area of Onkaparinga, keep your eyes out for information, and don't ignore it! Say something and do something!