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Open Letter to Senator Stephen Conroy on the state internet access in Australia

Hello Senator,

I have recently relocated my IT business from outer metropolitan Melbourne to country Victoria. The state of the internet in this country is a joke.

A professional associate of mine in Paris has access to 100Mbps down and 10Mbps up unlimited fibre. This costs him 45EUR p/m which includes line rental for a POTS equivalent phone service and basic cable TV. Setup is throw in if you take it for 1 or 2 years - he couldn't remember the term of the commitment.

I have a contractor in Hong Kong who has access to a network many times faster than people living in similar conditions in Melbourne.

In Tecoma I had access to business grade Naked ADSL2+ for $85 per month with 25G of data and a fixed IP address. Not included in the download quota was access to streaming radio, Linux and other Free/Open Source software (and some not so free), and some ABC content. If I exceeded my quota I would be shaped. The setup fee was $129. With this service I could use a high quality VoIP service for cheap calls overseas, where some of my clients and contractors are located.

Now I am living in country Victoria I am unable to even get ADSL1 - despite being informed by Telstra on 2 occasions that it was possible - "it won't be a problem just call us once you move in".

I am now stuck with a very sub optimal solution.

I am using currently using 2 HSDPA modems on the Optus network with directional antennas. During the week at best I can get 1.5Mbps/150kbps from each link. Each service has a 6G usage quota for $50p/m each, with excess usage charges of $153.60 per Gb (or 0.15c per Mb). All traffic is counted (both up and down).

The Optus network is stretched and even worse on weekends and evenings. The service is also unsuitable for VoIP, so I have to pay more for my calls too. Optus doesn't offer fixed IP addresses or an accurate tool for measuring usage. In every way their service is inferior to ADSL.

The equipment I used to set this up properly cost me close to $1000. I also spent several days setting it all up and paid for professional assistance with the project. As the service is not eligible for the Broadband Guarantee scheme I have to wear these costs as part of running a business in a rural area.

Satellite is completely unsuitable for my business due to the latency, slow speeds and a requirement of a minimum 2 year commitment. The claim that satellite offers a "metro-comparable level" of service is laughable - 1024/256kbps with 5G of data for over $100 per month and a $3000 setup fee is extortion.

My only other option is Telstra's Next G service which requires a 3 year commitment and costs considerably more than the similar service from Optus.

I am located near Newstead, less than 2 hours drive from the centre of Melbourne, not 200kms west of Uluru. I expect that I should be able to get reliable phone and internet services at reasonable prices with a choice of carriers. Based on my (somewhat limited) knowledge of the area less than half the connections from the exchange here can access ADSL. The current situation here is reliable, value for money or available - pick 2.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many businesses in rural areas are constrained by the lack of quality data services in their area. The lack of proper broadband services in rural areas must cost businesses millions of dollars every year. Local economies also suffer as people are unable to establish businesses which rely on reliable and affordable internet access and so the jobs and investment goes to the larger regional centres or metropolitan areas.

Based on overseas trends the National Broadband Network will be out dated before it is finished. Even with 98% coverage some 400,000 people in Australia will not have access to reliable high speed internet services.

Instead of wasting money on an filtering system which most people don't want, will slow down access and has the potential to cause major head aches for system administrators (not to mention making us an international laughing stock), you should consider investing in the future of rural and regional economies by giving us access to high quality, high speed internet services. My views of the filter scheme are best summed up by a comic.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing about how you plan to fix the state of internet access for tech businesses based in rural and regional Australia.

Yours Faithfully,

Dave Hall

Managing Director


200km west of Uluru

Simon Rumble wrote:

Isn't Pine Gap about 200km west of Uluru? I suspect they'd have far better Internet access than you have!

If you don't want to wait for the response from Conroy, you can read it already. I, and a bunch of others, got exactly the same responses from our MPs, straight from the Labor caucus Z drive: http://stilgherrian.com/politics/dear-mr-albanese-internet-censorship-tr...

Added Mon, 2008-11-10 08:10


eatmee wrote:

fsck me, was going to give you an earful on subsidizing your county lifestyle choice but 200k is nothing so im on your side.

have you looked at maybe getting a microwave connection to an ADSL connection in the nearest town, your screwed anyway so may as well look at crazy solutions.

That or move in to the car industry, $6,000,000,000 to build v8 utes... priorities ppl!

Added Tue, 2008-11-11 10:54

Slow Internet

Murray wrote:

It is sad that, while I was living in rural victoria, I was excited to go from 5k dial-up to 15k ISDN :'(

Added Fri, 2008-11-14 09:24

Speedy filter

Jmac wrote:

Let me guess Dave,I bet your still waiting.Unfortunately you have likely been filtered by the minister.

Added Wed, 2008-12-24 01:05

Internet Filtering The Conroy Worm

Tim Anderson wrote:

Dear Dave,

Thanks for bringing the real issue into focus with international comparisons. I am outraged that Senator is trialing an internet filtering plan that could slow down internet connection speeds by as much as 87%. This is outrageous behaviour from a biased minister intent on filtering internet content, he may say he only wishes to stop pornography, but he has been trying to silence a critic at an ISP, Internode Mark Newton by contacting Mark's employer and demanding that Mark "reigns in" his dissent. He has labelled critics of his policy as irresponsible as if they wanted child pornography. He really is a worm.

A page I have been working on to expose the Conroy worm.

Federal Censorship and Religious Vilification Laws

Yours Faithfully

Tim Anderson

Added Thu, 2008-12-25 08:43

Between Bungaree & Dean

David wrote:

I'd like to hope your letter to the Minister doesn't fall on deaf ears, we live between the Bungaree & Dean (VIC) exchanges but instead of accessing via the closest one Telstra in their infinite wisdom have us routed through an exchange over 20km away... the end result is a 24,000Bps (at best).

Like you, Telstra repeatedly insisted we would have access to a broadband capable exchange (obviously they don't know their capabilites too well) we love the Country lifestyle so we'll continue putting up with 3rd World connection speeds for now.

Added Thu, 2009-01-08 00:49

3rd World Internet in a First World Country

Web design Brisbane wrote:

This internet filtering proposal is nonsense. It doesn't stop the crimes, it just drives it underground. Remember how successful prohibition was in the the USA? It made no difference and lead to established organised crime.

Added Sat, 2009-02-28 00:39


eddy wrote:

Telstra is lobbying the senators to block the NBN legislation becauuse they want taxpayers to pay billions for OBSOLETE copper network. They should know copper is obsolete and useless so it is useless. Why do we have to pay billions??? The braodband is slow and customer service is lousy, that is arrogance.

Added Fri, 2010-03-12 14:51