Bad Telstra

77020 packets transmitted, 18029 received, 76% packet loss, time 77049435ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 20.026/130.848/2245.752/287.550 ms, pipe 3

Above are the ping results from pinging my server (hosted on a business DSL connection). Telstra stuffed up and appear to have entirely disconnected DSL for a few suburbs (based on reports from a client who has several clients in that region that all went offline simultaneously). It’s affected at least two ISPs (every DSL service uses Telstra’s backbone). The above ping results show almost 17 hours of outage, but it was really more like 18 (I didn’t start pinging until I realised it was down). Telstra’s response to the problem reports (which my client raised via two ISPs) was that it would take until the end of the next business day. The problem was reported at 10AM, so Telstra was apparently happy with two entire business days of outage.

I think that the root cause of such problems is the terrible performance of Sol Trujillo [1] (or “Telstra’s Sole True Hero” as suggested in Crikey [2]). Under Sol’s leadership Telstra stock has not performed well (it’s a monopoly – it’s supposed to reap money), it’s lost market share in every area where competition is permitted and it hasn’t made it’s customers happy.

Sol is taking an approach to business that works well for some big companies in the US (and for the mining and automative industries in Australia). He has been trying to force the government to extend the Telstra monopoly with the Fibre To The Node (FTTN) plan [3]. His idea was to have small Telstra boxes (nodes) spread around the suburbs with short copper runs to each home, each node would have absolutely no spare space for other ISP equipment and therefore the other ISPs would not be able to provide a service. The claim was that FTTN was needed for decent performance but ADSL2+ has been shown to work well in the areas where FTTN was proposed.

Telstra even sent out brochures to stock-holders encouraging them to lobby members of Parliament on behalf of Telstra’s rent seeking [4]. However Australia is not like the US and this didn’t work, they couldn’t even get Telstra stock holders to support such plans. Speaking for myself, my interests as a Telstra stock-holder (and I own more Telstra shares than the median stock holder) are vastly outweighed by my interests as a consumer of telecommunications services.

I would like to see the government nationalise the local loop and the exchange buildings and then provide fair and equal access to all telephone companies and ISPs (including Telstra). Then we can have true competition in this market and the companies that provide the best services will win. Currently Telstra resembles one of those inefficient Soviet monopolies. We need some capitalism in the telco industry!

5 comments to Bad Telstra

  • Anoni Moose

    Telstra’s problem is that its internal operations have become so complicated and utterly pointless that it is crippled by its own incompetence. Like so many other big, old companies today, they have been hamstrung by the disease of “compliance” procedures, and hence wouldn’t know their arse from their elbow when something breaks.

    The company is effectively in paralysis – no-one can do anything without so many levels of approval that it costs them a fortune to get anything done.

    Too many managers, too many fiefdoms, not enough competent technical staff.

  • etbe

    Anoni: That’s a nice theory, however I was really happy with Telstra service in the 80’s and early 90’s. Telstra was a big old company 20 years ago and still managed to deliver better performance than most telcos. For comparison, in the 2000-2003 period KPN (the Dutch monopoly telephone company) charged more than Telstra and yet managed to be on the verge of bankruptcy while having significantly lower costs of doing business due to smaller areas, Australia is a big country and the typical Australian home occupies about 10* the land area of a Dutch home (comparing a large house with a significant land area surrounding it with a small apartment in a multi-story building).

    It’s just in the time period since ADSL became popular that Telstra started going really badly IMHO.

  • Telstra is just horrible all round, crappy service, slow to fix issues, legacy systems …

    provide feedback or vent at

  • Jason

    Hi Guys
    Yes Telstra is slow to respond to problems how ever they do repsond.
    Yes I work for Telstra and have to deal with all sorts of complaints each day form the a Buiness side that is. As the company get sbigger there are more customers who complain at the end of the day Telstra is not forcing the public to use there service if you dont like your Mobile , Home Phone or Internet then turn it off and dont use it what happened to the days when we had no internet or mobile just a fixed line service. If you dont like your car you would sell it and get some thing elese. it the same these days for telecommications if you dont like Telstra then leave and use some one elese like vodaphone or Optus.

  • etbe

    Jason: Telstra do what they want to do and the government lets them. If they want to provide slow DSL service in an effort to get a FTTN monopoly then they do so.

    Telstra IS forcing people to use their service. Telstra has a monopoly on wires to the home suitable for running ADSL, if you don’t want a cable Internet/phone service (IE Optus) then you will almost certainly be using Telstra.

    Sure I could sell my car and walk everywhere, but that’s not a good option. Fortunately there are multiple car companies that compete and if one company sucked too badly I could switch to another. Now we need multiple companies providing wires or fibers to the home for competition in the Internet market.