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Blaming Telstra is the easy option

How much blame must Telstra accept for Australia's broadband blackspots?
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor
commentaryLast 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 Australia
The 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 renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your comments below.
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