telstra.com.au

Telstra fails to get it right with fast internet

IF one of the things that convinced you to vote Labor at the last Federal election was the party's promise to deliver a top-of-the-line broadband network across the nation, you'd be feeling a bit disappointed about now.

Broadband was a bit of a line-ball issue between the major parties last year.

The Coalition had a relatively straightforward promise that would have had super-fast broadband across all the Northern Rivers' regional centres within a year, with what most locals would imagine as 'normal' broadband to most other areas and an unfortunate few having to make do with dodgy satellite connections.

Unfortunately Labor's promise didn't take into account the crankiness of Telstra, which really has nothing to gain and everything to lose from

enhanced internet.

Ever since the internet began to evolve into something more than a toy for geeks, Telstra has done its best to discourage it.

Telstra's core business is telephones and its traditional strength has been in home telephones connected by its copper-line network.

The internet does a fair job of undoing that.

Even without the innovation of net-based phone services such as Skype, the internet's core strength is allowing people anywhere in the world to communicate with each other free.

Most web-based email services now even come with the ability to video-conference free in real time.

The only thing now holding us back from Jetsons-style communications is bandwidth and download limits.

Labor's promised broadband revolution seeks to close that gap by allowing everyone access to internet speeds that would easily allow, as one of its many benefits, seamless video-

conferencing.

It seems to me that many of Telstra's problems, and the reasons underlying its 'joke'- to quote Optus - bid, are its ownership and control of, and thus its need to protect, its copper-wire network.

It is the privatisation of that network that was the former Howard Government's greatest communications failure.

Interestingly, a dark-horse bid, headed by former Telstra honcho Doug Campbell for a company called Acacia, seems to have come up with a realistic solution.

Acacia proposes to build the new broadband network and then run it as a wholesaler, thus removing the conflict of interest that is causing such problems with Telstra.

We may yet get a worthwhile super broadband network at prices we can afford.

Telstra's core business is telephones and its traditional strength



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