Posts Tagged ‘Telstra’


All of a sudden…

December 13, 2010

Sometime over the weekend (we were away), the Telstra shaping of our internet connection was removed! (see for details)

Interestingly, this seems to be exactly four months since it was introduced, so the claim by the woman at Telstra that it was ‘everyone on the same RIM exchange’ seems a little tenuous. Maybe everyone in our street — unless they’ve upgraded the RIM exchange itself. I doubt the exchange has been upgraded as Telstra’s responsibility for upgrading (as versus fixing broken infrastructure) is getting a little hazy with the NBN rollout.

Whatever. This morning my results were back up in the 5.5 Mbps download range, instead of the 2.5 Mbps we’ve been getting for the past four months. Upload speeds remain the same at around 0.2 Mbps.

I wonder if this shaping will be a regular occurrence? Four months on, four months off; or perhaps four months every year as they rotate the shaping around customers on the RIM exchange. I hope not!


Telstra did ask… so I told them!

October 29, 2010

Earlier this week I received a letter from a chap in Telstra letting me know that some of my current mobile phone’s services will be killed off. They are services I never use anyway, so that’s no big deal — phone calls and texts are not affected. Part of the letter was, of course, a sales pitch encouraging me to upgrade to a phone suitable for Telstra’s Next G network. And at the end of the letter, the gentleman added a PS:

Don’t hesitate to drop me a line with any feedback about our products, services or support.

And he provided his direct email address! Nice!

So today I wrote back to him:

Thank you for informing me via letter that changes are being made to the earlier 3G (2100 MHz) network. And for letting me know that my mobile only operates on that earlier network.

You’ve encouraged me to upgrade to the Next G network, but UNTIL I CAN BE GUARANTEED my reception will improve as a result — in writing and with monetary recompense if it doesn’t improve — there’s no way I’m throwing good money after bad to Telstra.

My existing (old) mobile phone service, according to the ‘3G and GSM’ map on Telstra’s website, is EXCELLENT (bright green). Well, I invite you to come to my house and you’ll see just how ‘excellent’ it is. I’m lucky to get 1 bar for reception and the phone is continually reporting that I’m in up to 6 different cells — it can’t decide, so rotates through them all, including a cell that’s some 30 km away from where I live!

Whenever I take a mobile call, I ask the caller to call me on the landline as I can’t guarantee that the call won’t break up or drop out. Sometimes, if I stand in a certain position or turn myself in a certain way, I *might* just be able to sustain a call for a short time but as soon as I move, it breaks up. I’m a home-based business working remotely with my clients — this is not a good look for my existing or potential customers.

And it’s not just *my* phone. Various tradesmen have been here in recent months and I ask them if they’re on Telstra and get them to the check the reception bars and tell me what sort of phone they have (GSM, 3G and Next G). They ALL get 0 to 2 bars for reception, no matter what phone they are using. According to the Telstra map of Next G coverage, I’m in a bright orange zone so should get excellent coverage on the new network. But I’m NOT spending money on a new phone to find out that it works no better than the old one. One time, when I called Telstra about my crappy reception, the nice gentleman there said that upgrading my phone (at my cost) ‘would definitely’ improve my reception. I asked him to GUARANTEE that bold claim — he wouldn’t. He backed off and said it ‘should’ improve.

So, again, I thank you for your letter, but until Telstra actually delivers the coverage they state is EXCELLENT in my location, there’s no way I’m throwing away any more money on mobile phones.

Oh, and by the way, it’s not just my mobile coverage that’s bad. Even though I pay for a business broadband plan with my ISP, Telstra have seen fit to ‘shape’ my broadband access, thus limiting my ability to work (see my blog post about this here: There’s nothing I or my ISP can do about this. Maybe Telstra will remove the shaping at some point; maybe not.

So I’m not at all happy with Telstra.

You asked me to ‘drop you a line with any feedback about your products, services or support’.

If Telstra delivered on its promises, that would be a good start — mobile coverage that reflects what you say it does, and broadband access that isn’t throttled by a decision by someone in Telstra.

It’s so rare that you can get access to anyone in Telstra that I couldn’t resist ;-)

As an aside, I never call Telstra these days as the ‘on hold’ times are ridiculous — typically an hour or more being shunted from one department to another with no resolution to your problem, or even them ‘losing’ your call along the way so you have to start all over. BTW, I heard the other day that if Telstra are called out by my ISP for a fault, and then find that it’s not a fault at all (and remember, it’s their word against mine) they charge a call out fee ($60?), plus $30 per 15 minutes callout time. I wonder if we should all invoice Telstra for our time kept on hold in their labyrinthine system. Maybe their customer service might improve as a result… it’s worth trying!

Update 2 November 2010: I received this email from Telstra this morning:

Thanks for your email. We appreciate you taking the time to write. I so apologise for the time delay in responding to your email.

I have requested a formal complaint be registered here for you with regards to coverage and the issues you have had here. You will be contacted directly by one of our case managers to see what we can do to assist here.

Update 5 November 2010: So I got the call from Telstra today. I ended up speaking to two people, one about my poor mobile reception and other about my broadband shaping. These are some things I found out about my mobile phone reception:

  • It looks as though we live in a ‘black hole’ between towers (I had already figured that one out!)
  • Telstra (and NONE of the providers) can provide a written guarantee of mobile service for a particular location
  • Telstra are happy to kill the existing part of my current contract with them if I decide to go to another carrier (but what’s the point if the coverage is just as bad — or worse; it could be better, but it may not be — remember, no guarantees!)
  • Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone all have their own cell phone towers
  • Switching to Next G might improve my reception — or it might not
  • Next time I upgrade my phone, insist on a ‘blue tick’ phone, as these have stronger reception capabilities even though they may look uglier

And here’s what I found out about my broadband shaping:

  • Everyone on the RIM exchange I’m on is shaped (and I thought it was just me…)
  • The reason it’s shaped is that the exchange is congested (hello? There are no more than 50 houses in this area and my reading about RIM exchanges says that up to 400 subscribers can be on one RIM exchange… something’s not right here; also, the area was subdivided and the RIM exchange was set up in about 2005 — how can it be congested already when there’s a finite number of blocks in this low-density housing location??)
  • Telstra can only guarantee service of 1.1 Mbps download, no matter what we pay for or what plan we’re on. The lady I spoke to told me there were people in the heart of Melbourne who could only get 1.1 Mbps even if they’re on ADSL2! (I bet they’re impressed — NOT!)
  • She confirmed that even if I could switch to an ADSL2 plan (which I can’t), I’d still be shaped along with everyone else on this exchange.
  • Until the infrastructure is upgraded, the shaping will stay in place. When I asked about the infrastructure upgrade, she said she had no idea when, where etc. and said that it was up to the federal government, and that with deregulation, Telstra had no obligation to upgrade infrastructure. (Great — I really wanted to hear that…)
  • Of course, the existing infrastructure is unlikely to be upgraded because of the NBN rollout. And no, there’s NO indication as to when we might get NBN here — it could be two years, it could be eight, it could be never…

[Link last checked October 2010]


Telstra. Bastards!

August 20, 2010

I’ve been monitoring my internet speeds for some time now. Since we moved house 6 months ago, I’ve been getting around 3 to 6 Mbps (averaging around 3-4 Mbps) on my 8 Mbps plan. I’ve been OK with that, given the limitations of an 8 Mbps plan.

However, since 11 August 2010, my download speeds have not gone over 2.5 Mbps (uploads and ping rates have remained about the same). I’ve still been able to do my work, though the download speed has been slower. Yesterday, however, my connection to my client’s servers was really ‘flaky’, dropping out at least 10 times, though fortunately not late in the day when I had to upload a 20 MB file.

So I called iinet (my ISP) this morning to see if there’s a reason for the consistently slower speeds and for the flakiness. Well, nothing was obvious for the flakiness, but Paul, the support guy I spoke to at iinet, diagnosed the problem with the slower speed almost immediately.

And it all comes back to Telstra.

Because we live more than 8 km from the Telstra exchange, we’re on a RIM (or sub exchange). However, there’s a limited amount of bandwidth available on the RIM, so if there’s congestion, Telstra will do what’s called RIM shaping. Meaning that they will impose a limit on an individual’s download speed, no matter what plan or how much the individual has paid for their connection. Paul said that even if it was possible for me to shift to an ADSL2 (24 Mbps) plan (not possible where I live), it would still go through the Telstra RIM exchange and Telstra would still shape the speed to a max of 3 Mbps if there was congestion. So I could pay squillions for a 24 Mbps service, and still only get 3 Mbps!

There’s no consideration taken by Telstra as to how much someone has paid, what plan they are on, what usage they are making of their connection (work for me; perhaps movies for others), etc.

Bastards. I wonder if I can sue them for restricting my ability to work….

The sooner we get a National Broadband Network, and break the back of this Telstra monopoly, the better.

Analogy: Let’s say 20 people turn up at a restaurant and all order the $40 steak. But there are only 10 steaks. So the restaurant decides to give some the steak they’ve ordered, give others a cheaper cut of steak, and yet others a smaller portion or ground beef — all for $40 each. Those getting the cheaper cuts, smaller portions, or the ground beef would be mightily p***ed off, especially as the restaurant won’t entertain the idea of any sort of discount or compensation for not being able to provide them with the goods they ordered AND PAID FOR. That’s exactly what Telstra does.

Update 5 November 2010: I spoke with someone at Telstra today. Bottom line: This shaping is for everyone on the exchange I share, and it’s an infrastructure thing, so it’s not going to go away until the infrastructure is upgraded…. Details at the end of this post:

See also:


Telstra: User experience FAIL!

March 14, 2010

Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications company. It used to be the ONLY Australian telecommunications company — and it was government-run — until deregulation some years ago. They still think they are #1 dog in town, but they’re not. Complaints about their telephone, mobile and internet services (known as Bigpond) are legend in Australia — everyone has a story to tell, and most of them tip into the horror story genre.

I’m with a different ISP ( and until now I wouldn’t have gone to Bigpond if you paid me. I was talking with one of the PC Gurus the other day, and he said he was getting ADSL2 speeds where he lived (about 20 kms south of a major regional centre; I live about 20 kms north of the same centre). I was surprised and amazed as regional Australia has typically been the poor cousin when it comes to internet speed. ADSL in much of regional Australia is 1.5 Mbps upload speed, with some lucky exchanges now providing 8 Mbps. ADSL2 is up to 24 Mbps — substantially more. My Guru got me to check available speeds for my phone number on the Bigpond site — and wonder of wonders, ADSL2 is supposedly available here! However, he also said Telstra keep these speeds for their customers, not on-sellers of their services like iinet. He then suggested I contact iinet to see if they can do some sort of deal with Telstra to free up something for me.

So, I called iinet and got one of their helpful support people. He confirmed that Telstra keep these things for themselves, and that even if the main exchange I’m on gets upgraded and the speeds are made available to iinet (and thus their customers), he said that at the distance I was from the main exchange (about 8 kms), I must be on a RIM exchange and thus could never get those speeds with them unless I moved my business to Bigpond. I don’t want to do that — I’ve been with iinet for 11+ years and they’ve been very good. The support guy suggested that I call Telstra direct to find out exactly which exchange I’m on and if it’s a RIM sub-exchange. He told me which main exchange I was on in about 10 seconds flat, but couldn’t give me details about the sub-exchange as Telstra don’t provide them with that information.

I called Telstra. After negotiating their horrendous ‘friendly’ automated voice system for about 5 minutes, I finally got a real person in Sales who had a very charming Indian accent. I said I was looking at switching to Bigpond and wanted to know which exchange I was on and what broadband speeds it supported. She took my details, including my phone number, and said she’d ‘be back to me in a minute’. After 30 minutes of on hold music (I’m a patient person…), I eventually hung up. She never got back to me.

She was in Sales. I was a prospective new business customer. She put me on hold. She didn’t get back to me. And over the next 8 hours of the work day, she did NOT phone me (she had my number). Fail, Telstra. Again. You can see why I don’t want to take my business to Bigpond. They can’t even be bothered following up on a sales enquiry. God forbid what they’d be like if I was actually a customer and they’d already got me in their ‘broadband plan’ clutches and I was trying to get something fixed.

While I’m bashing Telstra, I may as well have another shot at them too.

My Telstra mobile phone, which is only a couple of years old, is having trouble in our new location. It either has no signal or it gets a single bar (weak) signal, and it’s continually changing the name of the cell it’s connecting to. So I called Telstra a week or so ago. The friendly chap there said that if I had a Next G phone I should have no trouble, but he couldn’t guarantee it. So, he wants me to buy a new phone and go onto a new contract when my current phone works perfectly well everywhere else — just not in my house which appears to be in the no-mans’ land of some X Files vortex over not-quite-overlapping cell towers. And he can’t guarantee that even if I get a Next G phone that it will work any better! He *thinks* it will. So I could spend hundreds more dollars only to find that I’m no better off! I bet Telstra don’t have a money-back guarantee or a phone return policy for phones that can’t access signals in the 2% of Australia that they say is not covered. I live really close to a MAJOR centre, and can’t get decent mobile phone coverage with a 3-year old phone. There’s something seriously wrong with that — and with the attitude that I can just throw away my phone and replace it with a new one… when there’s no guarantee that it will work any better. (And I checked Telstra’s own coverage maps, and they indicate that I should get perfectly good reception with my current phone without an antenna. Fail.)

I am NOT happy with Telstra.