The Campaign Continues

January 27th, 2010 by Russell Leave a reply »

It has now been 11 months since Telstra was notified of congestion issues affecting 20,000+ potential users connected to 70+ RIM/CMUX devices in the Gungahlin area, Watson and other north Canberra suburbs. Over that 11 months nothing has happened to increase the level of service and nothing has happened to provide users with a restoration time frame.

Since August 2009 I have written letters to my ISP through support tickets and to Senior representatives at Internode. I have written two letters to all the Legislative Assembly Members for Molonglo with some good and some average responses.

I have also contributed to National Broadband Forum with one of my submissions included for discussion. I have met with Federal Senator Kate Lundy and received two letters from Senator Conroy’s office, the last being five days ago. I have represented the issue on ABC radio 666 Canberra and received heaps of letters of support and interest from the general public.

2009 was a big year.

With the beginning of a new year comes a change in tac for me and this campaign. The break has given me a chance to review what has occurred and what needs to come. During this time I have come to some conclusions and made some decisions about what I can achieve and what is “flogging a dead horse” named Telstra.

In early January 2010 I decided to investigate the possibility of using TransACT as a service provider. I realised I had spent over $1000.00 dollars on an ADSL service that was unable to deliver any value for 11 months. This was wasted money and I am unwilling to continue to spend it on a worthless service.  I don’t mind spending that sort of money if the service will work but ADSL in Palmerston doesn’t work.

I have just installed TransACT skydata and have not regretted the decision. I am sorry I have to cancel my account with Internode, they have been a big supporter and very good to deal with. It is wrong that one company has to loose customers and revenue because of the poor service provided by their wholesale provider.

For me the cost of Skydata is similar to the ADSL1 uncapped if compared directly and cheaper if you take line rental into consideration. I was paying $89.95 a month for ADSL1 uncapped (up to 8mb/s) with 25 Gigabytes download. Now I pay TransACT $55 dollars + $35 with an ISP for 20 Gigabytes (total) download. Once I cancel my Telstra landline and use TransACT I will not have to pay the $30 Telstra line rental so it works out cheaper. I understand if this is above many household budgets, which is why I am not going to stop pushing for a better result for all Gungahlin.

I can now download stuff at 10:00pm at night with no congestion (and 30 millisecond latency not 600 ms) and my VPN into work also stays connected. I strongly suggest people look into the technology and leave Telstra behind. The only issue people will have with the technology is that you need line of site to Oak Hill (behind Forde) and that will preclude many in the area.

The decision to use a different provider does not mean I will stop the campaign. I will not forget everyone who has contacted me just because I managed to find a better way. What I will be concentrating on is TransACT and the Fibre to the Home roll out in Gungahlin. The new suburbs like Harrison, Crace and Franklin will be getting FTTH as announced in late 2009. These fibre runs have to go past Nicholls, Palmerston and Amaroo to get to the new suburbs as they will be run from Forde.

My sights are firmly on TransACT to roll out FTTH for all suburbs in Gungahlin. I believe this is the best answer to the current problem as it is actually a possibility. Telstra are not going to change their mind and spend the money the closer the NBN gets. Telstra have not upgraded any existing RIM/CMUX in Gungahlin in 11 months and continue to deploy pair gain systems within a kilometer or two of an existing exchange.

This is one reason why I changed providers. I would rather spend money with a company who is willing to invest in the area. I will not continue to give dollars to Telstra who have done nothing but the bare minimim for 15 years.

TransACT have a non disclosure agreement with the NBN Co, they are running Fibre in the area and have the facilities in Forde to host the required services. There is a business case to increase the “sale” value of the TransACT assets to the NBN when the time comes to integrate. A roll out in Brownfields (existing) suburbs will increase the total number of users under FTTH and increase the value to the NBN. Finally the Territory government is still a major shareholder in TransACT and could use this relationship to address constituent’s issues in this area by working with TransACT.

I have come to the belief that Telstra will not fix any of the current ADSL issues where RIM/CMUX are involved. The fact Telstra will not give a resolution date even after 11 months indicates they are happy to ignore the area. Even if they announced upgrades tomorrow I estimate it would take over a year to upgrade all 70 odd RIM/CMUXs. With the NBN on its way it would appear that Telstra has decided that no advantage would be gained from upgrading facilities. If $50,000 was required to improve services through each RIM then the cost for 70 RIMs would be $3.5 million. With the NBN about to replace the copper network within the next 2-5 years Telstra would not get enough return on the investment. It doesn’t make commercial sense once I put myself in the shoes of an accountant.

Enough Telstra shareholders have told me “their money” shouldn’t be used to fix my problem. Last time I checked Palmerston, Nicholls, Amaroo and other areas were installed when Telstra was government owned and used my tax money to pay for these deployments. It is a pity Telstra decided not to do it properly in the first place, now they are a private company no one seems to have any influence over them to address the short comings in a service every Australian paid for, not just Telstra’s precious shareholders.

Anyway, the campaign will continue. I will try and influence an improvement in broadband services through new opportunities and channels. I will continue to push Politicians to fix the current service and try to accelerate a FTTH rollout in our area. I will push the  NBN to acknowledge Gungahlin as a disadvantage area for priority FTTH deployment and lobby TransACT to roll out services to existing suburbs.

I know this is a long post but it has been a while. As always feel free to contact me by email or leave a comment.

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18 comments

  1. c shen says:

    I am living in Franklin and no access to ADSL2. How is the speed of Skydata, compared with ADSL2? If it is significantly better than ADSL1. I’d consider to switch to Skydata. Currently I am with TPG ADSL1 1.5M broadband. For downloading, 110 K bytes/second is the best I can get.

  2. Paul F says:

    Maybe you should convince everyone in the area to move over to skydata so that it will relieve the congestion at Crace and I can finally get a decent ping during peak hours???

  3. Tristan says:

    Hi Mate,

    First of all thanks for putting in the effort and trying to make a difference to Gungahlin broadband which is a disgrace as it stands at the moment. I’m in harrison and I get dial up speeds all the time during peak hours.

    How have you found skydata with regard to weather effecting it, and also have you done any gaming using it?

    I am just looking for any alternative to pull the plug on my existing connection.

    regards
    Tristan

  4. Jon says:

    Sigh… New part of Watson… No TransACT… No choice… Keep up the fight!

  5. Chris says:

    If only Internode were available via TransACT. I definatley would’ve swithced already.

    Which ISP did you go with?

  6. Russell says:

    Skydata speeds are much better than my old ADSL connection. TransACT provide the infrastructure to access phone and the internet but you need to buy data services off one of the ISPs. I have a velocitynet account and a grapevine account.

    Both work much better than ADSL. I will post more about each ISP in a full post.

    maximum speeds during the day have reached over 4 megabit per second on Grapevine to a Canberra based server. International is a bit slower but still good.

    Weather has not caused any issues including the recent thunderstorm.

    If Internode could work out an agreement with TransACT I would be back as their customer in a flash.

  7. Jon says:

    What is the latency like on Skydata?

  8. Grant says:

    “I realised I had spent over $1000.00 dollars on an ADSL service that was unable to deliver any value for 11 months.”

    Multiply that by 20,000+ subscribers. You get approximately $20 million per year. This problem has been going on for several years now so multiply it again.

    I’m throwing around the idea of a class action lawsuit against all ISP’s for a refund of these fees. They are all breaching the Trade Practices Act by selling a service they can’t provide.

    They know about the congestion problems. They continue to sell the service making it even more congested. They take more money knowing they can’t deliver on basic broadband expectations.

    Presumably they in turn would counter-sue their wholesaler on similar grounds … but that’s not my problem :)

  9. Paul F says:

    Here is a perfect example of what they can do…

    Telstra progresses Point Cook RIM-to-fibre swapout

    http://www.itnews.com.au/News/167002,telstra-progresses-point-cook-rim-to-fibre-swapout.aspx

    Now why are they not doing it here?

  10. fox says:

    We’re still struggling with an ADSL1 Bigpond connection in North Lyneham. For the past week now we’ve been getting an average download speed of 8 kbits p/s (upload 253 kbits p/s on 1346 ms ping), and as yet the Bigpond team haven’t done anything to rectify the situation (again).

    From what I can tell we’re going through the standard process of:

    – complain to Telstra about speed
    – Level 1 tech support see that on the surface our line is eligible for an ADSL2 connection, and adjust it so
    – line isn’t able to cope with new connection (RIM CMUX)
    – speed slows down even more or drops out altogether
    – complain to Telstra about speed and/or drop outs
    – Level 2 tech support restore us to ADSL1

    This happens every month without fail.

    Unfortunately we cannot connect via Transact (units 1-25 within our townhouse complex were built before cabling was laid down), and the Skydata maximum quota doesn’t even cover half of what we download each month.

    It is increasingly frustrating to have the service we pay $130p/m for fail time and time and again, especially because we’ve been told that we can only acheive “the best” speed through Telstra.

  11. oliver says:

    You say “The new suburbs like Harrison, Crace and Franklin will be getting FTTH as announced in late 2009.” Presumably that means only the parts of Harrison yet to be developed. I have been in Harrison since mid 2007. It was impossible to get ADSL2 on my Telstra line because of “pairing” I eventually went with Skydata and have been happy with result. e.g. at 10.20 am 15.2.09 3.43 Mbps download, 0.63 Mbps upload, 14 ms ping (speedtest.net). ISP is netspeed.

    I would like to think that Transact would provide FTTH in my part of Harrison but given their investment in Skydata I suspect that is unlikely in the near future.

  12. oliver says:

    How time flies! The speed test was on 15.2.10

  13. Hi Russell
    I asked ACTPLA – the ACT planning authority about internet to new suburbs at the planning committee hearing in December. In summary the government does not specially require internet services in new areas – and we know they don’t in established areas. Here is what they said
    …………………….

    MS LE COUTEUR: I would like to ask some more questions about greenfield
    development, although not specifically about Molonglo. Do you do any work on the
    provision of internet services, bearing in mind that Gungahlin is an area which people
    complain about because it does not have internet services? Is that part of your remit?
    Mr Savery: No, it is not something we specifically do, but it might be of interest to
    the committee that, through the Commonwealth government’s announcement of the rollout of the national broadband network, there is discussion happening now at a national level through the planning official’s group on how planning systems or
    planning processes can assist in the facilitation of the delivery of the national
    broadband network.
    For instance, one of the conversations is around the planning ordinance of individual
    jurisdictions, ours being the territory plan. Is that the appropriate mechanism to
    facilitate, through a new greenfield development, for a developer to be required to
    provide broadband infrastructure? We are at a very early point in that discussion.
    There are a range of considerations. In the territory, as distinct from other jurisdictions,
    if that was imposed through the territory plan, given that the developer has purchased
    the land to have certain rights, it might require the government to provide some
    funding. That is why we are at a very early point in the discussion.

    …….. lots of other stuff in here….then continuing

    MRS DUNNE: When you are developing a new subdivision code, going back to
    Ms Le Couteur’s question, what requirements are made to make provision for internet services?
    THE CHAIR: We did that before when you were not here.
    MRS DUNNE: Sorry. Ms Le Couteur asked the question and you talked about the
    national broadband. I am asking: when you actually design the suburb, are you saying
    there will be trenches that will take these sorts of things et cetera?
    THE CHAIR: That is a different question.
    Mr Savery: Through the chair, we do not get into that level of specificity in our
    designs. That is for estate developers to provide. It is up to governments to set policies
    as to whether or not they want internet provided to every home. That is not for
    a planning agency to determine. We do not get to that level of design.
    MRS DUNNE: No, but, when suburbs are being planned, do you tick off or have any
    consciousness of whether the trenches, because everything is underground these days,
    are capable of carrying gas, water, electricity, cable, fibre, whatever? Is that sort of
    element ticked off? It is about the common trenching policy, I presume. It may not be
    called that anymore.
    Mr Ponton: In the estate development plan we seek advice from various agencies.
    We also ask developers to speak with communication providers to ensure that
    communications, including internet, can be provided to the estate. At the moment it is
    possible for common trenching; so we do this without issue. We do not get involved
    in the detail of that but we have to be satisfied that it can be provided.
    MRS DUNNE: So you do tick off on the capacity to deliver all these services?
    Mr Wurfel: That is right.

    You can see the whole transcript at http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2009/comms/planning10.pdf and search for internet to find the relevant bits.

  14. Greg says:

    Hi, Just found this website and it is brilliant. I live off a RIM in Palmerston and get the latency issues like clockwork on the weekends and most weeknights. I will be looking to Skydata too. Keep up the good fight and I too will be writing to our MP’s to see if we can be put on some sort of NBN priority list, as Telstra’s behaviour in this situation is just not good enough..

  15. Mekongdaze says:

    I too will be writing to our MP for the Gungahlin area. With an election looming, maybe voices will be heard this year?

  16. Nathan says:

    Greg, I too was a convert to skydata some 5 years ago, but mate now that everyone is onto it the bandwidth does not seem to be able to cope. I have been having serious issues now for months finally tomorrow I have a tech coming, with the promise if it is my side of the net then I pay!!! I am over it just done a speed test and getting a pathetic 0.14Mbps download and no better upload…….