When is broadband not broadband? When it's Next G

When is broadband not broadband? When it's Next G

Summary: In telecoms, Telstra is no 800 pound gorilla. It's an 800 pound colic-ridden infant, irritably throwing its toys out of the pram when it doesn't get its own way.


In telecoms, Telstra is no 800 pound gorilla. It's an 800 pound colic-ridden infant, irritably throwing its toys out of the pram when it doesn't get its own way.

Whether you agree with what the government's been doing on broadband policy or not, it's become a hot electoral issue -- things are definitely moving. There's a fibre rollout hopefully coming to urban areas, a WiMax deployment for the bush and for everyone else, there's the Broadband Now Web site: a site devoted to showing those in Australia's remotest areas how they too can get connected by whatever means possible.

The whole point of the site, according to Helen Coonan et al, is to give those not in the know about their broadband options a list of providers who meet government criteria on price, speed etc (quite what's the point of an Internet site for those who don't have broadband to start with is beyond me, but let's gloss over that for the moment).

Initially, when the site was set up, Telstra's BigPond ISP didn't make the list as it didn't meet the criteria set down by the government: a 512Kbps download speed; a 128Kbps upload speed; a 1GB monthly data allowance; and a total cost including connection fees of not more than AU$2500 over three years.

Telstra had a word with the government about the omission. The telco didn't like being missed off the who's who list. They deserved to be there too, dammit, they said.

"They [the Department for Communications] spent the last two days telling people it is Telstra's fault because we do not have a service that fits their arbitrary definition of a metro comparable service. The department's convoluted criteria for 'metro comparable' services excludes basic broadband (256Kbps) and all of Telstra's higher-speed broadband services," Telstra said.

Telstra didn't meet the government's criteria, for good or ill, yet the company thinks it should be included on the list. Why all the aggro from Telstra about not making the grade for a government Web site? Does its marketing department need a helping hand these days?

But no. Telstra has inveigled its way onto the Broadband Now list. By lobbying, complaining and presumably, threatening to hold its breath til it turns blue, the telco will soon have its offerings included, albeit with the disclaimer that such services are not metro comparable.

The government should be ashamed of itself for giving in, Telstra equally so for its daft request.

Next G mobile network, Telstra proclaimed, should be also counted as a broadband service. Sure, Telstra, sure -- keep telling yourself that. Telstra's Next G network might be arguably the most comprehensive 3G coverage in Australia, but there is simply no comparison between what we know as broadband and what Telstra's 3G delivers.

If you were considering using Next G as your broadband network of choice, you're going to need some seriously deep pockets. For what's laughably termed a "super fast" connection of 1.5Mbps, with a measly 3GB cap, there's a monthly fee of almost AU$185.

Next G may be up to the job of being a data carrier, but it doesn't hold a candle to "real" broadband offerings like ADSL2+ in speed and, more importantly, price. With such poor caps and expensive plans, it's the ugly sister of the broadband market.

It's fine to expect to pay a premium for connectivity with mobility, but it's embarrassing to be asked to pay one so high. If Telstra sticks to this kind of pricing, 3G will remain the mobile broadband that never was.

Topics: Broadband, Emerging Tech, Government, Government AU, Telcos, Telstra, NBN

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  • Telstra 3G wireless broadband

    You might dig a little around the reliability of the wireless network.
    It has trouble finding the network, it drops out from the internet connection while maintaining the 3G connection, you need to pull out the device and start again, making it difficult for programs with a time consuming login.
    Trying to ftp a large file, it kept timing out - had to revert to dialup to upload the file.
    Overall, after using it for a while, I find it too unreliable to be useful. This aspect is more important than its pricing.
  • BB in remote areas

    And what about BPL (BB over power line) technology. It is being used, tested, implemented in Australia?
  • Zero Coverage in Hervey Bay!!!

    Yes you heard correctly! I live in the centre of Australia's fastest growing city (presently around 60,000 people) and I get zero broadband access, zero GPRS mobile phone access, zero Next G coverage, zero ports available in the exchange even if they could provide broadband and get this, zero access to broadband because my BigPond account is currently sitting on the old Telstra accounting system and therefore can't be upgraded to broadband until it is moved to the new accounting system. However I do have a Telstra landline and BigPond Dial-Up service, which by the way runs at around 4Kbps. Attention Senator Coonan, it's time to rethink the strategy for our country. Wouldn't it be cheaper to have one national network provider which sells data to all of the major IT&T companies including Telstra! That way the government can dictate good standards and ensure that they are maintained. And then the IT&T companies can compete on a level playing field.
  • Next G not broadband

    Jo, I am wondering if you have even used the Next G network yourself?

    I was recently on Hamilton Island and had a JasJam paired via bluetooth to my MacBook Pro - I could not believe how close it was to being at home on a 512k service. Sure, theres some extra latency due to being over the air but it was fast enough for surfing and great for downloading large files.

    Sure, its not cheap. But I'm not aware of any wimax available yet and, when it arrives, I doubt it will compare to adsl2+ either in terms of speed (latency and throughput) or price - since you are using that as the benchmark.
  • You are right

    I think the government shouldn't have sold the whole lot of T$ company. They should have retained the infrastructure part under government custody and privatised the upper service. We can't see T$ company improves their service after T3 because they are still at monopolying position, further more there is no political power to affect them directly now.
    Any way, lots of people are abandoning T$, and we should see the company changes or their share sell off in the near future.
  • What she says is correct...

    ... by definition broadband really isn't broadband until you get into the multiple megabits per second range.

    Your Home 512k service is not "broadband" either so you can't go comparing that to Next G.

    Telstra "think" broadband starts at 256k which is quite frankly a joke.

    Broadband will arrive in Australia on the day that 256k and 512k plans are no longer available as an option.
  • Why even use Telstra?

    Why do people insist on even using Telstra? I currently use 3's X-Series for mobile broadband and it's so much cheaper ($30/month for 1GB) and the same speed as Telstra's Next-G. The only thing it doesn't have is coverage over the whole country, but they're getting there.
  • Not insist

    Actually you can see more and more people are leaving Tesltra. There is no "people insist on even using Telstra". Myself have dumped Telstra land line - I replaced it by VOIP with Wireless connection (not Telstra) at home.
  • What a typically ignorant response

    Why use Telstra? Ha! Are you joking? Are you really, really , really that serious? Hellooo....have you ever left the east coast? Some of us **have no choice**, that's why. And believe me, I know, a recent 20 min net session via NextG cost me $412!! What is the point of even offering a service like this and worse, pushing it's business use, when the cost of sending 8 documents (which is what businesses do) cost hundreds of dollars.
  • BPL

    BPL is currently going through a commercial trial in some parts of Tasmania. However due to pricing I don't think it is going to succeed.
  • Priced For Shareholders

    Come on Jo, give them a break, we wouldn't want the shareholders missing out on fat returns.

    Telstra don't want to miss out on pickpocketing the uninformed, and bending them over and giving them the royal wallet scraping.

    Telstra could price NextG services at competitive rates, but why? When they can simply be greedy, and shape the market to their scam?

    DCITA should list them, but with a VERY CLEAR indicator that by signing with the plans listed, you will be paying through the roof for a service that is of the same quality, and the same speed, except, with more value, elsewhere.
  • BPL

    The condition of the existing grid infrastructure and additional infrastructure required to support BPL are considerations that will probably make utilities decide not to implement the service.
  • Finding Telstra: the Ultimate Delay-fish

    This reminds me of the story where the Telstra executive dumped on the Apple iPhone("There's an old saying -- stick to your knitting -- and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting," Winn told AAP. )

    What then has Telstra (and the Goverment) been doing in the last two decades ... knitting apparently!

    The reason that Australia, which used to be near the top in Internet penetration some 15-20 years ago, is now lagging is a combination of Telstra and Goverment lack of vision. The infrastructure component of Telstra should be Government owned or controlled (like roads) and everybody should be allowed to compete. I and many others are still upset about the cancelling of a promised broadband project in the early 1990's in Gungahlin ... not wise to upset a technologically literate population and a very dumb move considering the rapid movement to broadband elsewhere. Of course I am still waiting to have access to REAL broadband (>10Mbps) ... fortunately I have access to gigabit at work for my research. Others are not so lucky ... so much for the Lucky Country!

    Once they wake up (Telstra and the Government) maybe they'll do something useful ... Hmmm ... the blue of the Telstra logo reminds me of that fish from Finding Nemo ... the "delay-fish" .... just Telstra aint as cute!
  • The G stands for Gauging

    Right on Amanda!
    Next G would have to be the biggest money gauging exercise Australia's every seen. I recenty downloaded the new Yoober program to avoid getting whacked for SMS costs. Luckily I've got a good data plan with a rival carrier - my mate who was on telstra got pinged a fortune. 3G is right. G for gauging Australians
  • NEXT G - Hamilton Island

    This is one of the premier domestic/international travel destinations in Australia and you have to resort to 3G for internet access. No wonder there is a dirth of domestic travel in Oz. Ham Isle is comprised of 3-5 star locations, there ought to be free wireless in all areas and wired in every room, or minimal rates.

    At least you were resourceful enough to do this on your own, 99% of the world would be incapable of configuring all that.
  • Telstra NextG is NOT broadband

    I have a Samsung A501 NextG phone and the data cable and software to connect it to a PC or laptop. I gave it a go when I moved house and waiting for my ADSL2+ service to be re-connected.

    The best that I could get out of it was around 236kbps. I don't know what this "super fast" broadband claim is based on, but for me at least, it's pie in the sky.

    And it's expensive pie to boot.
  • Thanks Amanda

    For at least bringing some much needed attention to the mongrel ridden and bastardised monolith that is Telstra, it's deluded minions and it's pathetic and laughable attempts at regulatory free rides.

    T's Next G product is an overpriced, under performing product, designed and delivered for not much more than T's agenda for profit gauging.

    I'm hugely disappointed the Governments "broadband now" site caved in for Hel$tras entry on the list,
    there offering of overpriced fraudband doesn't belong anywhere, least of all on a website that's meant to help and not mislead potential consumers.
  • Can anyone do better

    Telstra seem to be the only company who are interested in building a wireless network as broad as it is . For the people who comment the service is a rip of perhaps you should consider the fact that no other isp is interested in having the same or larger infrustructure
  • hmmmm

    Telstra are the only ones in a market position to roll out something of this magnitude. Why they should rip us off with these prices is a different story though. NextG uses approximately 80% of existing CDMA base station equipment.

    NextG is merely a mobile network that is capable of providing data at reasonable speeds. It's still no magical saviour to the broadband problems in this country.
  • Next G Gouging

    "Anonymous" wrote "Can anyone do better?"
    I believe that there are lots of companies who can do better, but Telstra is preventing them from effectively entering the market.
    When the OPEL deal was struck recently, the first thing Telstra complained about was another company duplicating what it already had. Seems nobody else is allowed to build where Telstra has been, and if you do build, you certainly can't connect to their infrastructure. (ULL/FTTN ruckus)
    Main problem is that the government was too quick to bank the Telstra share subscriptions before they woke up to what they were actually selling.
    If they'd split out the infrastructure into a separate company first before they sold the rest, then we wouldn't be in anywhere near the sort of mess that we're in now.
    But then, if you'd stripped out the infrastructure, what would Telstra's shares be worth? $0.20? 3/5ths of naff-all?

    And for those of us who can still tell the difference between "lose" and "loose", I think that what people who have been referring to as "gauging" by Telstra, really mean "gouging".
    "Gauging" is what you do the the market before you apply the "gouging" - which Telstra does with shameless abandon.