Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Thu 15th Jan, 2009

Shared Spectrum Stupidity? or Telstra Treachery?

I'm on Internode's standard ADSL2 offering and I have a voice line through Optus. I've been watching Internode's progress to their Ultra offering, combining naked ADSL line, VOIP phone, and number portability through Optus. Finally, it arrived, and in order to procrastinate over all the the things I need to do to get ready for Linux Conference Australia, I decided to try to sign up.

After a long wait (thank Bell for call back services!) I spoke to a nice young lady who, after the usual confusion over exactly what bits of documentation she wanted from me, informed me that changing over to this service would require a downtime of 10-21 days, starting at some arbitrary point in the future and continuing to whenever Telstra got around to changing my service over from being connected to their equipment to being connected to Internode's. This was something of a shock - I never go without internet access for more than a couple of days unless deliberately divorcing myself from all forms of technology - so I had to have a think about it.

This, to me, epitomises why Telstra, as a company, should basically be torn to shreds by the powers that be and thrown to the winds. Because its whole modus operandi for collecting money is basically down to these kinds of stupid extra delays and charges. If you're not a Telstra customer you have to wait until last because they have a monopoly on who can work on their copper. They'll slug you for every possible thing they can because it keeps their revenue up - we pay more in line rental to be an Optus customer than we would if we were with Telstra. And they introduce huge and unnecessary delays - it should take ten minutes to re-terminate some bits of copper, not three weeks - because it implicitly penalises you for not being a Telstra customer. You can bet that if I was a Telstra customer I'd be able to be chopped over instantly with perhaps a ten second loss of carrier.

So remember, if you're a Telstra shareholder your share value is being propped up by this kind of anti-competitive, nasty-business, strong-arm tactics. Your shares retain some kind of value only because Telstra is milking every customer for every cent that they're worth with every devious and underhanded tactic they can get away with. And remember when you voted to not allow the board to increase their salary, and they did anyway because they basically ignored a two-thirds majority? Yeah, that was good for those share prices too, eh.

I have no doubt that the line technicians and customer service people and all the low and middle ranks in Telstra are nice people in the usual ratio. I don't hate them specifically, except as a general principle of feeling that they should all just revolt against the bad reputation they get as Telstra's representatives. What I hate is the corporate bullies up in the upper echelons, who dribble broadband to us through NextG and other pitiful connections and then openly state that they could really open the throttle up for everyone but they'll only do so to drive other competitors off - in the mean time they're just quite content charging us huge amounts of money for a thing that barely earns the name 'service'.

There will be a reckoning, some day...

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