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AU Goverment To Break Up Telstra; Filtering News 144

Posted by kdawson
from the breaking-up-is-hard-to-do dept.
benz001 writes "The Minister who has pushed the ridiculous broadband filter plan has at least won a few brownie points with yesterday's press conference, in which he promised to force Telstra to split its network and wholesale businesses. Australia's largest ISP, and the country's main infrastructure owner, will be given a chance to implement the structural separation voluntarily; if it does not, the Government will step in with legislation. Here is the Minister's official press release." And speaking of the filtering program, reader smash writes "After several years of debate and electioneering, some statistics on the Australian national web filtering effort have been disclosed. Apparently, the typical Aussie web surfer is 70 times more likely to win the national lotto than stumble across a blocked page. Additionally, despite the claim that the main aim of the filter is to block child pornography, only 313 of the 977 total sites blocked is on the basis of child porn. At $40M AU so far in taxpayers funds, the cost so far is around $40,900 per blocked URL. Government efficiency at work..."
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AU Goverment To Break Up Telstra; Filtering News

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  • Let alone two.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      The sad Reality of such a break up is that their is not going to be a significant benefit to the consumer. Instead of one monopoly we will have 2, One still in complete control of the infrastructure and still setting prices and a second dominate retail division which will still be the defacto standard for people to use as they don't know better.
      • by Zeussy (868062) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:17AM (#29436327) Homepage
        From the article it sounds like they are implementing something like what the British government did with BT, that the 2 firms cannot give each other preferential treatment, or special rates. To encourage competetion.
        • by mjwx (966435)
          Mod Parent Up.

          From the article it sounds like they are implementing something like what the British government did with BT, that the 2 firms cannot give each other preferential treatment, or special rates. To encourage competition.

          This is exactly what they hope to accomplish and exactly what Telstra is doing.

          • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:19AM (#29436911) Homepage

            Indeed, and any suggestion otherwise is merely FUD.

            Having worked for Telstra, their attitude toward wholesale customers is absolutely terrible. They are deliberately given worse service than Telstra customers, even though ALL Australians paid for the network they "own". This is great news and I have been pushing for this as a viable alternative to the mess that is Aussie telecoms - mind you, most people have no idea of the real impact and just parrot the FUD spreaders.

            I wouldn't be surprised if bloodhawk is in Telstra middle management.

            • by Spit (23158) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:06AM (#29437127)

              There are astonishing anti-competitive roadblocks to wholesalers. I recently looked into converting my internet service into a naked service, but the caveats and hoops they have to jump through made me give up for now.

              The internet service stays the same, the physical wire stays the same, the exchange connections pretty much stay the same, all that I wanted to change was moving the line rental from Telstra to my ISP. To do so would require a totally new service to be commissioned with extended outages, and was told this is an artificial limitation.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hucko (998827)

              Indeed, and any suggestion otherwise is merely FUD. Having worked for Telstra, their attitude toward customers is absolutely terrible. They are deliberately given worse service than corporate CIOs, even though ALL Australians paid for the network they "own". This is great news and I have been pushing for this as a viable alternative to the mess that is Aussie telecoms - mind you, most people have no idea of the real impact and just parrot the FUD spreaders. I wouldn't be surprised if bloodhawk is in Telst

        • This is slashdot
          1)Any goverment regulation is BAD mkay*
          2)Countries that have strict completion rules are retarded
          3)If an American company gets regulated elsewhere they should stop doing business with that region entirely

          *rule does not apply to regulation of Microsoft, SCO, etc

          • Regulation of a free market is generally a bad thing, but regulation of a government created monopoly is necessary and desirable. Besides, I don't think it's sensible or accurate to claim that everybody on /. is economically far right wing.

            • by afidel (530433)
              Regulation of all monopolies is equally important. By definition market forces will not be able to counteract a monopoly because if the market forces were functioning correctly the monopoly would never have occurred.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ... until they get a a $280 bill for going over their transfer limit on their $29.95/month 200mb plan. Note I said transfer limit as Telstra include uploads and downloads in that.

        My daughter spent 2 hrs on a kids games website at her grandparents house not long after they signed up to Telstra. This put their account over the limit, and combined with all the other traffic that went across the account in the first month, they received a $280 bill. Despite my repeatedly telling them that they should choose
        • by Fluffeh (1273756)
          Hate to take the side that isn't yours here, but I would say that for an elderly couple, visiting a few websites and checking a bunch of mail messages, that 200 meg plan may be enough for an average month.

          Is it flexible? No. Would I ever use a telstra plan? No. (I signed my parents up to Internode) Would I recommend Telstra as an ISP to anyone? No. Could you get much better value for the same $30 from another ISP? Of Course. Is it likely a 200 meg plan would suffice for many elderly couples and their for
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Until a windows service pack is released which blows it all in one go.

          • that 200 meg plan may be enough for an average month.

            My parents are in their early 60s. I wouldn't say that they are elderly (I'd be disinherited if I did!). I tried to get them to sign up with a more reasonable ISP like Netspace (who I'm with) but they have been on the interwebs since I was living at home with them (and I moved out in '96), and they have embraced it for all its glory in the last few years. They do far more than just checking a few websites and a few emails, and because they were comforta

            • by MrNaz (730548) *

              A single out of the ordinary anecdote does not prove a point. GP said 200mb may be enough for *some* elderly folk, not *all* elderly folk. I also agree, 200mb plans have a use case. I just think that charging the same for them as for a 2gb plan on another network is a bit steep.

              • by Hucko (998827)

                Two anecdotes? Besides if playing flash games for two hours puts you over 200mb transfer... it is hard to see that reasonable usage for anyone wouldn't do the same. People are sending pictures uncompressed at 5 & 8 Mb each. I think Telstra has generously increased to volume to a massive 500mb recently though.

              • I am elderly folk, you insensitive clod!

                And 20gb is about right for us; we get the "used up 90%" email from Optus about two days before the end of the billing period. Quite happy with them. Wife is a photographer, I'm a WoW tragic.

                I was also architect in charge of Telstra's integration of NetCracker (unfortunate name) internet onboarding design system (replacing a rather large number of VBA-infected spreadsheets). The software was from Boston, the team of integration programmers was from Russia, and wer

        • by afidel (530433)
          And people wonder why we Americans love flat rate billing.....
      • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:24AM (#29436367)

        No, this is excellent news, should have been done years ago. The problem with Telstra is that, as well as being a front-end retailer and ISP, they own all of the back-end infrastructure. Despite regulations that are supposed to allow access by other providers to the back-end infrastructure, Telstra have always managed to find a way to charge more for other companies to use the infrastructure than it costs themselves, giving Telstra (ISP) an unfair advantage over other ISP's.

        Now, the retail end of Telstra (the part that would presumably keep the brand name) will need to compete on a level playing field with the other telcos for a share of the wholesale bandwidth. There is no reason for there to be any kind of special relationship between the separated arms of (former) Telstra, anyway there are plenty of existing laws (eg, price fixing!) to discourage that.

        I don't agree that "people don't know better" than use Telstra. That might have been true for the first decade after deregulation, but no longer. Telstra is universally loathed in Australia, and people who still use it tend to only do so because in some markets (but by no means all) they are the cheapest.

        • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:01AM (#29437111)

          Absolutely true.

          I have seen something similar going on in The Netherlands, where KPN (traditionally the only fixed-line telephone provider) has been forced to give access to other companies to their network, at good rates. Those rates are determined by the government, periodically reviewed, and are cost plus reasonable profit for the maintenance of the existing network.

          It took a while, but first the IDD providers got in - users had to dial a four-digit prefix to select the carrier. Then those IDD providers also started to provide long-distance calls, with the same four-digit prefix. Then small devices came that would dial that prefix for you automatically and transparently. And now even that is not necessary anymore, users can directly set the IDD and long-distance carrier. And are billed by that carrier.

          The same of course for ADSL services provided over the POTS network. First KPN's own povider Planet Internet was basically the only one, now there are dozens or even hundreds competing on the ADSL market, providing great choice for the consumer.

          The only problem left is that because KPN owns the cables, so it is always a KPN technician that comes to your home to make necessary connections. And the communication between you (consumer that wants a connection), ISP (that has to set up your account) and KPN (that has to connect the cables) is not always going perfectly well.

        • I believe that Telstra could be cheaper in some places, though I've never seen it here, but I think the bigger cause of their continued dominance is their reputation. Young people know that there's no difference in quality of service on wired services (their mobile network is better) and there's a very slim chance of one of the smaller companies going bust and leaving you without a connection, but for older generations, Telstra is a trusted and familiar brand and they've never heard of the smaller ISPs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jeeeb (1141117)
        Things take time to change. This is a good first step. Alternative ISP have made vast inroads in the Australian market and competition has increased massively.

        I first got broadband in 2003 on a 2 year conract, 512/128 1gb download limit (with uploads counted!) and excess charges for $70AUD a month through Telstra.... In 2004, I bought out the contract and switched to iiNet... 256/64kbps 4gb download limit (Uploads not counted) with excess usage capping for $60AUD. Oh how things have changed since then. I
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sonicmerlin (1505111)

          Hahaha. Your standards are so low it's laughable. "Generous download allowance" of 35 gigabytes? Your attitude is mind-numbingly ignorant.

          If most of your data went through underseas cables, then why does your cap apply to all traffic?

          You also realize most of the popular sites Australians visit are hosted locally in Australia, right? This reduces costs for the content providers as well as the ISPs.

          Japan is a similarly isolated island country, and yet affordable 1 gbps connections are proliferating in urb

          • by zaydana (729943) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:15AM (#29436573)

            Japan is a similarly isolated island country, and yet affordable 1 gbps connections are proliferating in urban areas.

            Population density of Japan: 337.6/km2
            Population density of Australia: 2.833/km2

            Theres a reason that 1gbps connections are available in Japan, but not Australia. For how isolated we are as a country here, its remarkable that we have the internet as good as we do.

            • Most of japan is likely urbanized, as they're a small island nation with a high population. Very little of Australia's landmass is urbanized, in comparison, as it's a small population and large swaths of desert, so while technically accurate, I doubt those population densities are a real indication of the difficulty of creating urban broadband infrastructure.

              An example, New South Wales has just under one third of Australias population, Australias 'Northern Territory' is much much larger, yet has only 22
              • by Jeeeb (1141117)
                I dealt with this in my reply to the grand parent bellow but basically the same thing applies to Japan. It's a very mountains country (About 70% mountains) with large areas of comparatively low population density. Japanese urban areas are _MUCH_ denser than Australian urban areas. Anyone who's been to the two countries could tell you that.
          • Japan is a similarly isolated island country, and yet affordable 1 gbps connections are proliferating in urban areas.

            Japan has many times the population density of Australia. Their telecommunication markets are not comparable. The Japanese are a race. They really do look to their own country for content. Australians exchange data with countries which have comparable cultures. Europe and the USA.

          • by mgblst (80109)

            Yeah, Japan is equivalent. How far away from the continent is Japan? Now look at how far Australia is from anywhere. You fool.

          • by Jeeeb (1141117)
            Japan is a similarly isolated island country, and yet affordable 1 gbps connections are proliferating in urban areas.

            Funnily enough I'm living in Japan atm and had a feeling that someone would raise it. Here's a few fun-facts about Japan. The total land area of Japan is about 370,000km2 or about 1/20 the size of Australia. 70% of this is land is mountainous and quite sparsely populated. Furthermore, the Tohoku and Hokaido regions in the north are cold and still quite sparsely populated (Comparatively sp
      • by mgblst (80109)

        This is not true at all. We will have one that manages infrastructure, that will deal with all companies equally. You will then have one that competes, and is no different to the other carriers. HOW IS THIS 2 MONOPOLIES.

    • Let alone two.

      How often do you have to directly contact a wholesaler, as a retail consumer?

      • How often do you have to directly contact a wholesaler, as a retail consumer?

        If you've ever lived/worked in rural Australia, you'll have found that it's quite common to have to deal directly with Telstra, since they own all the phone lines and exchanges. Doesn't matter who's selling you the bandwidth.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by smash (1351)
      They trade as telstra, but there are many departments within... and the left hand has no fucking idea what the right hand is doing.

      My bet is that it will be situation normal whether they are split or not...

  • Say what you will about the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Austrailian web filters... This "70 times more likely to win the national lottery" business was clearly pulled out of someone's ass, and in the process, they made a number of egregiously wrong statements.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      Say what you will about the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Austrailian web filters... This "70 times more likely to win the national lottery" business was clearly pulled out of someone's ass, and in the process, they made a number of egregiously wrong statements.

      It's really not that difficult, but perhaps you could RTFA, since TFA actually has some justification for this figure. Perhaps your posting came from the same orifice that you claim the "70 times" number came from?

      • ...since TFA actually has some justification for this figure.

        Yes, but what TFA conveniently neglects to mention is that if you funnel every single http request through the same government-administered pipe, something is going to block up. It doesn't matter whether or not the site you request is blocked. Just having to ask is enough.

        Given that our governments have a long history of messing things up, you can bet your ass that if the filter does get implemented it will be hopelessly underfunded and under-
        • The ISPs do the filtering, they don't funnel all the traffic to a central government-run filter. The government provides the ISPs with the list of things to block and the ISPs do the blocking. A particular ISP might run into performance problems but it'd only impact their customers.

          Not that I support the filter at all, of course.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hucko (998827)

          I was recently told by a Queensland Education Department tech that the current, recently upgraded EdQ filter infrastructure (centralised in Brisbane covers every school in Qld Au) is only able to cope with a maximum 80mbps requests. Some of the apparently common slowdowns of the department's network were due to this.

          I can only wonder what will happen when Australians are all filtered...

          • by laptop006 (37721)

            I also run several large Australian educational networks, and while a little low that figure is believable.

            Only this year have several of them started upgrading above 100Mbit.

            Also the QLD system doesn't do *every* school, it might do every *public* school but that's less then two thirds of the total number of schools.

            • by Hucko (998827)

              Yeah, sorry for being imprecise. I gotta remember my potential to only think from my perspective. *slaps side of head* That 2/3 number is still reasonably high.

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Oh, the article explains their method just fine. The problem is that they create a pointless and misleading measure.

        First, they don't confirm that the blacklist's URLs use the same definition of "URL" as Google. Blacklists are notoriously bad about saying URL when they mean a wildcarded URL, like http://badsite.com/* [badsite.com] or http://geocities.com/badsite/* [geocities.com]. Clearly, a wildcarded URL is associated with some unknown number of Google-cache URLs.

        Second, they compare the number of URLs blacklisted to the approximate s

    • by smash (1351)
      Actually, it was based on number of pages in the google index, divided by the number of pages in the filter. The lottery stats are easily calculated if you care to bother.
      • Which is clearly a retarded metric, because assuming that the likelihood of visiting any two pages on the web is equal is obviously stupid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dan541 (1032000)

      These stats came from a government that would not set the criteria of pass or fail until they have the result. They also make stupid claims about how it won't slow the internet, last I checked a 404 is a pretty high percentage of slow down about 100%

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:36AM (#29436139) Journal
    Implementation of a system like that unavoidably involves substantial fixed costs(both at startup and per year). Once you have one, though, incremental costs should be pretty low. Thus, the obvious way of making it "more efficient" in dollars/URL terms is to use it a lot more.

    Obviously, the mere existence of the system sucks, and taking pot-shots at governmental inefficiency is always fun; but there is a serious point here(although this program is a poor example, since it shouldn't exist at all):

    Inefficiency is bad; but do not make the mistake of assuming that procedural restraint is a form of inefficiency. After all, courtrooms could be much more efficient, in case/year terms, if jury trials and defense attorneys were abolished. Prisons would be much more efficient, in dollars/year/inmate terms, if they were kept as full and as crowded as possible. And just think of the negative impact of the internal affairs division on the number of officers actively patrolling the streets, a terrible waste.

    If your justice system allows efficiency to replace justice as the primary criterion, you have issues.(Of course, if your justice system allows public hysteria and political convenience to replace justice as the primary criteria, you get web censorship schemes).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Si1verfish (1638309)
      The interesting point I heard yesterday on the radio was that if you are spending huge sums of money creating a new independent network to compete with telstra, why spend all this money reforming the old network at the same time?
  • Really it's about time. From what I've heard, ever since Telstra went private in 2006, they've been nothing but a nightmare for Australians as well as the government. They've had such an adversarial relationship with the government I imagine they managed to make a good deal number of enemies.

    I think this quote from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is extremely apt: "For years industry has been calling for fundamental and historic micro-economic reform in telecommunications," Conroy said. "Today we

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      From what I've heard, ever since Telstra went private in 2006, they've been nothing but a nightmare for Australians

      Nothing changed in 2006. Telstra/Telecom has always regarded their customers as the enemy. Back when Optus was starting up I preselected them for long distance. I called Telstra customer support with a question about my Telstra account for local calls. Their answer was that they couldn't answer the question because I has preselected Optus. In other words: you deal with the competition so STFU.

      Old telstra people I know regard their employer as part of the federal government. By that argument dealing with the

    • by Techman83 (949264)

      My guess is the old-timer politicians could never properly understand the "new fangled technology", and as newer, younger, and more tech-savvy politicians make it into office they are able to see how the industry has abused its unregulated position for so many years.

      Unfortunately the current politicians in power do not properly understand the "new fangled technology". Whenever Senator Conroy questioned, he completely avoids answering the question, simply just regurgitates the bullshit line he has chosen for that particular day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SlashWombat (1227578)
      I used to work for Telstra about 15 years ago and it was thought by most employees at that time that the initial Telstra "split up" was laughable, and was not going to do anything for competition. After all this time, it seems laughable that they are only just considering some bum kicking. This will all become mute should the government implement the national broadband they seem intent on at present as this will spell the death knell for the copper voice/ADSL that most Aussies currently connect via. As it s
  • by ztransform (929641) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:50AM (#29436209)

    As an Australian citizen I have to say I am ashamed of Australia's level of corruption at all levels of government (and the lower the level the higher the corruption) from local to state to federal. With a justice system for which truth is no defence against an allegation and unions that have no interest in actually doing their job.

    Is Internet Filtering about protecting Australians or giving authorities more reason to prosecute and more agencies kickbacks for "essential services"?

    Here in Australia you don't even need to break a present law to have committed a crime. The Australian Tax Office (or Federal Government) can, at any time, pass legislation that applies retrospectively. For anyone with a short memory consider the repealed alcopop tax in 2009, the luxury car tax that was levied prematurely, the petrol taxes levied by Keating without budget approval in the senate, etc etc.

    People get excited about Australia but it is just the weather and landscapes that are worth raving about. The regulatory system has nothing fair or just about it.

    • by walshy007 (906710)

      For anyone with a short memory consider the repealed alcopop tax in 2009,

      Even though it had never passed, they are still collecting it, and since a small shift of power has occurred, they are reintroducing it and are pretty sure it will pass this time.

      At least they acknowledge it will do nothing for binge drinking, just makes people buy bottles of spirits. To qoute them "we need the money".

      The bigger concern is that they can introduce such things without any legislation passing and have it effectively stick over multiple years

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ztransform (929641)

        The bigger concern is that they can introduce such things without any legislation passing and have it effectively stick over multiple years

        My concern is that they tax individuals, the young, the old, the rich, the poor, on each drink. Then when they decide the tax is illegal guess who they refund.. the person that paid the tax? NO! They refund the alcohol industry.

        Makes me think the alcohol industry might be strong arming the government into making up the tax so they can sell these drinks at a higher price which everyone grumbles about and accepts and then profits from!

        Which goes to prove Australia is anything but "just". The concept of a

        • by Techman83 (949264)
          I think the Mantra of "just" and "fair go" still stands at least with the citzens. The government, and it seems so much more so the Labour government of today is really doing some pitiful things. I may not of agreed with a lot of things the Howard government brought in, but nothing really got me angry like the plethora of things the Rudd government has brought in and attempting to bring in.
    • by LordAndrewSama (1216602) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:59AM (#29437101)

      As an Australian citizen I have to say I am ashamed of Australia's level of corruption

      And so you should be. We brits have been doing corrupt fucked up government for ages, and you're very far behind, despite all the hard work that seems to be going into catching up. do you have people like mandelson, jacqui smith, gordon brown? shape up and get with it, we're all moving into a golden age of corruption, and you don't want to be left behind, do you?

    • by anarche (1525323)
      Really? Corruption?

      On the same scale as saaay, Indonesia, Iraq or China? Get a grip!

      Yes there is chronyism, yes there are retroactive laws (which equal corruption how exactly?)

      We are one of the most transparent democracies in the world, the only reason nobody is ever held to account is because the people vote so predictably. Get out there and change that . And you'll remove the "corruption".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrrudge (1120279)
        I didn't realise it had to be on the same scale as the-most-corrupt to qualify as corruption ? Nepotism and chronyism are corruption of the highest order when done at a government level, the people get less than they deserve through personal greed. Retroactive laws which benefit the government as an institution over the people they are sworn to defend and uphold is corruption.

        And vote for who exactly in this two horses of slightly different colour race ? Tory ? Lib Dem ? Green ? Pirate ? Honestly, you be
  • The truth... (Score:2, Informative)

    by overbaud (964858)
    ...is that if Telstra had played ball with Kevin Krudd and implemented his national broadband plan this would not be happening. But Telstra doesn't want to play ball and that makes Kevins plans next to impossible. This is just Kevin getting his own back and forcing Telstra to play ball at the cost of the thousands of Mum and Dad investors that were encouraged to invest in Telstra. A double financial kick in the guts given the current financial climate. If Kevin really wanted to bring about this change *he s
    • Re:The truth (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:15AM (#29436317)
      The sad truth is that Telstra has needed it's sales arm broken off from its service arm for a long time now. They have had too much influence over the operations of other telco's for a very long time and have repeatedly used it's dominant market position to force customers into higher paying plans. DSL blackspots to sell high priced "NextG" mobile broadband, limiting the bandwidth/coverage of MVNO's, deliberately reserving open DSLAM ports for Telstra only customers when no such customers existed (Against the law, which stipulated they could not do that to wholesale customers) claiming there were no ports available (except if you went with Big Pond). There is a reason iinet, Internode and many other smaller ISP's went to great pain and expense to install their own DSL infrastructure and now Telstra is whinging that it cant compete.

      at the cost of the thousands of Mum and Dad investors that were encouraged to invest in Telstra.

      At the age of 15 I could tell the Telstra Share Offers were vastly overpriced, this is why they only sent their prospectus to selected individuals in the first release. Telstra has held back the advance of internet and telecommunications services in this country and why should we help them hold it back even further for the sake of other peoples bad investment.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Really? Vastly over priced? And yet they were selling for almost triple the initial offer price two years later.

        Sure they are below that price now so those people who bought then and are still holding see the shares that cost them $3.30 are now selling for $3.24. I'm pretty sure it will have been very easy to have done worse in a stock pick.

        Oh but inflation, you say? Yes $3.30 then is equivalent to $4.53 now. But I skipped the dividends, those $3.30 shares if held for all this time will have paid $3 in divi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EEPROMS (889169)
      thousands of Mum and Dad investors

      You have to be kidding me, every Telstra investor is now crying in their drink after losing 70% true net worth on their investment (net worth versus cash). They would have been better opening a cash account and getting 4.5%pa.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      When Telstra was privatised it was quite clearly stated in the prospectus that the government could implement changes in the way telstra was managed if those changes were in the public interest, this obviously has always had an impact on Telstra's share value and as an investor you should have kept informed.

      On the subject of privatisation, prior to privatisation Telstra as a government institution had originally intended to have fibre optic to the majority of Australian homes by 2005, so the profits for

    • by smash (1351)
      "Mum and dad investors" have another name. Sheep.
    • I disagree (Score:5, Informative)

      by Namarrgon (105036) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:23AM (#29436935) Homepage

      The separation of Telstra's wholesale and retail divisions has been discussed [zdnet.com.au] heatedly [smh.com.au] for many years, long before the change of government. The previous administration was happy to let it stand, which made Telstra investors happy but pissed off Telstra customers as well as competitors, not to mention holding back innovation [arnnet.com.au]. You only have to look at the number of times Telstra has lost in fights with the ACCC [news.com.au], the courts [theage.com.au] and even the government [theage.com.au] to see why this was a mistake.

      The only group of people who are opposed to Telstra being split are the (unlucky) shareholders. Pretty much everyone else who has had to deal with Telstra are unhappy with their service and pricing [whirlpool.net.au], their treatment of retail customers [news.com.au] and wholesale customers [whirlpool.net.au].

      I'm not saying that the government's NBN plan is well-thought-out or anything, but Telstra's joke of a proposal [news.com.au] and their juvenile "change the law to suit us or we take our toys and leave" attitude [news.com.au] is even worse for the competitive landscape and the general Australian public. A split can't come soon enough.

      • by overbaud (964858)
        The point I was making is that the timing of this is suspicious. It only was announced after Telstra decided it didn't want to be part of the NBN. If Telstra was split before the NBN fallout then I would say fair play. But when it is announced as a result of political games and affects mum and dad investors then I take issue. I don't have Telstra shares, nor am I against a breakup but it should be because it needs to be done... not because Kevin is trying to force Telstras hand because they snobbed his NBN
    • Re:The truth... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:18AM (#29437203)
      The truth is instead that if Telstra didn't have a government mandated monopoly then Sol or Ziggy would have completely destroyed it due to their mismanagement. The price of a government mandated monopoly and having a government as the largest shareholder (future fund) is that the government can take that away.
      Telstra have not been "playing ball" since about 1996! I also don't see how you can blame the Prime Minister for the money grubbing scam of the previous government of the Telstra float. A company that spends millions buying a dodgy pirate ringtone company in China and a thousand other bits of stupidity should not be immune to government action when it is in the national interest and the government is the major shareholder. The government has to get more out of it than a place to put good mates on the board, which is nearly all the previous government did. It needs better management than letting a failed farmer pick a silver tongued mexican bandit as a CEO then get that seconded by a historian too radical to get a good job in academia and a corrupt businessman that bought his way onto Australias TV screens as a pathetic copy of Letterman.
      Kevin Rudd's huge ego really has nothing to do with it. We are all paying life support for a disfunctional corporation that could not exist in a competitive environment. We effectively have a government Qango that the government can not control and expending far more money while delivering far lass than it would if it was run by the government or was run like a private corporation. Sol must have been laughing all the way to the bank as he came over, called his friends over to join the feeding frenzy and contracted out many failed projects at vast expense with nothing delivered to friends at Andersons/Accenture and others.
    • by Malc (1751)

      Kevin Rudd's broadband plan that he announced earlier in the year is ridiculous and should be canned. AUD$43 billion could be better spent in other areas. What a waste of money.

  • Brownie Points? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Techman83 (949264)

    The Minister who has pushed the ridiculous broadband filter plan has at least won a few brownie points with yesterday's press conference

    I'll believe it when something actually happens. Senator Conroy has a history of extreme inconsistency, ranging from "The government just wants to block child porn" to "The government just wants to stop 'Unwanted Content'". Conroy, get your story straight, the Australian people, including the non technical part of the community are tired of your complete and utter lack of consistency.

    From the Brisbane times

    "Unless it structurally separates, divests its ... cable network and divests its interests in Foxtel,'' Senator Conroy said.

    I wonder exactly how profitable are those parts of Telstra's business? Has anyone seen what Telstra

  • It's just a shame that the government feel they need to do this in order to put together their NBN plans. (I believe this is the first time they've even mentioned the idea of splitting Telstra.)

    Of course, once split, they should be able to buy up the infrastructure arm for a song and actually have a chance of getting the NBN in under budget...And removing any competition they would otherwise have for customers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst (80109)

      What the hell are you talking about. If you have never heard anyone in gov talk about splitting up telstra before, you have been living under a rock. This is the best thing that could have happened, and should have happened from the beginning.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      The budget had the appearance of being an enormous figure announced to get everyone's attention. At least one large ISP is convinced the number is well over double the realistic number, and that was even if Telstra infrastructure had to be duplicated. Since Telstra hasn't done much since 1996 there's still a fair bit of infrastructure to build.
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:17AM (#29436323)

    To decrease the stupid cost per blocked url metric?

    • by smash (1351)
      Heh. Would prefer they got rid of the filter. I just find it amusing that I've got about 100k sites in my LAN's proxy server, and i got that done in about 15 minutes work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ralish (775196)

      No, I take the view that's $40 million AUD that could have been spent on actually bringing the creators of genuine child pornography to justice, rather than a filter to stop people from viewing the end result of the real original sin. The hard reality is, people who want to view this material are always going to be able to access it if they really want to, filter or no filter, and this money does nothing to stop the problem at the source; just maybe a few people from seeing a video that shows the (in my opi

  • Seriously, the filter proposal is simply lipstick on a pig... The real problem for Australia is the lack of a clear regulatory system. As a gamer, the fact that we don't have an R18+ classification really irritates me, the internet classification system just depends on what the ACMA feels like on that day, as they don't have to get a site a classification, just declare what they believe the classification board would approve. It might help if we got a politician who understood technology, instead of the cu
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Techman83 (949264)
      Funnily enough, Part of Senator Conroy's [wikipedia.org] election strategy was explaining exactly how much of a luddite Hellen Coonan [wikipedia.org] was. I attended one of his broadband forums prior to the last election, and whilst I pulled him up on a few things, he actually had a plan to do something about communications in Australia. Unfortunately it turns out that he was no better and in fact a magnitude worse then Helen Coonan.
  • FIltering news? This seems to me completely unrelated. The government wants to force Telstra to ensure it permits wholesale customers?

    A little like we forced Bell to do so in Quebec?

    Except that in Quebec Bell forces its wholesale customers to throttle as well (or rather, it throttles its wholesale customers without their consent!) And as we know throttling is evil. The CRTC is reviewing the case right now, let's hope liberty prevail!

    Liberty .. Anonymity.. prevail!!!!!! (I should become a sailor)

  • About time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcam (615646) <david AT uberconcept DOT com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:59AM (#29436783) Homepage

    Good on govt. for doing what should have been done before telstra was sold. This actually ensures that there will be some competition, rather than a continual requirement for regulation. In its current form, telstra is a recipe for anti-competitive strategies. With a monopoly on copper, they have a retail arm and a wholesale arm, that sells to companies who compete with the retail arm.

    Sol and his amigos didn't exactly help telstra either. In Australia the government is not afraid of regulating with the consumer in mind.

  • "Divide and Conquer."
  • Buying it Back (Score:2, Interesting)

    by missileman (1101691)

    I believe the current government is maneuvering to buy back the wholesale arm of Telstra. It should be in public hands IMO, and it sure would make the NBN (National Broadband Network) a lot more viable. ... and I don't think it's the wrong thing to do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sincewhen (640526)
      Agreed. The problem I had with the pseudo-privatisation of Telstra was that the infrastructure had been paid for by our taxes, but was being sold off with the company, giving Telstra a huge advantage in the marketplace. To me, the organisation should have been split into three independent units - (1) Mobile phone/data, (2) landline, internet and other services and (3) infrastructure. The last would become a govt authority which would take a cut from all the phone companies for using the infrastructure and
  • "only 313 of the 977"?! WTF, that is a lot! Bl00dy stupid argument. I am very happy that they took care of those and for the time being couldn't care less about the other warez sites! Go, get them.
  • At [Internode ISP's] Simon [Hackett]'s request, we're transplanting a post from WP Internode forum [to WP Broadband forum]:

    From: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1280230 [whirlpool.net.au]
    To: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1280474 [whirlpool.net.au]

    (There's a Poll [on the first thread] on the Q of whether you feel that, an ISP [with] "too many" plan options
    may deter you from choosing any of their plans, as Barry Schwartz suggests in his earlier TED talk.)

    ---

    First, some background from an -earlier- post

    • by ivi (126837)

      The 3rd line from the bottom was meant to say:

      "Grow your business by attracting more (& not only geeky) customers."

  • Not separating wholesale and retail operations was a major error when competition was first opened up.

    If Conroy can pull this one off, he may not be an entirely surplus sack of shit after all.

  • So... if the lotto is daily, you are saying that one page is blocked every 70 days nationally?

    (Assuming all people play lotto)

  • The claimed aim of the filter to justify its existence is to block child pornography, but only half of all blocked sites are porn-related, less than 1/3 are actually related to child porn.
    I'd like to know more about what is on the other sites and why they are blocked.
    It sounds like this is yet another case of yet another government claiming they're doing something reasonable just to get the mechanism in place, just to abuse that trust and use it to attack their own citizens key constitutional rights such as

  • Is laws that make it difficult to violate existing laws.

    Child pornography: illegal. But let's make it more difficult to break this law. Oh, and btw, here are some freedoms you used to have.

  • Additionally, despite the claim that the main aim of the filter is to block child pornography, only 313 of the 977 total sites blocked is on the basis of child porn.

    If the other 666 sites are all in a singular satanic bucket, then you could maybe justify the wallet and freedom wrenching "only". If the other 666 sites are divided up into ten groups of 66.6 site each, then there is no need to put this forlorn tin-foil spin on "main aim". (My math presumes two sites exploring a cross-over genre.)

    If you set up an HIV clinic, you're going to prescribe for other common infections, unless you deliberately turn a blind eye to prevent having your main aim called into disgrace

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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