Monday, August 19, 2013

Telstra: master at the art of telco suckage

Every now and then it seems prudent to remind ourselves why the National Broadband Network is necessary, by reacquainting ourselves with how screwed up the current Australian telecommunications industry is. Old mate Ben Barren provides in spades today, detailing yet another sorry story of monopoly and market failure.

BB's work is spectacularly difficult to parse in detail; in my experience, it is best to assume he knows what he is talking about and let his stream of consciousness wash over you to get the general effect, rather than get bogged down in his unique phrasings. (He's the reason Cliffs Notes were invented.) The story is one of Telstra owning the dominant mobile phone and data network hardware, at a scale so large that none has dared seriously challenge them for decades, and playing them like fiddles to control resellers within the ecosystem.
Unfortunately Australian telecommunications market always tends towards these types of monopoly or at best oligopoly. But as Telstra has the only quality mobile network at the volume end of the market with an adequate level of performance (the NextG 3.5G network urban and regional reliable coverage in dense city and remote country areas) - mobile telephony is tending towards a monopoly.
Just when you have a breakout such as Kogan’s $29 unlimited calls and text with 6gb mobile data, market forces are brought to eventually favour the monopolist not the consumer.
The NBN is not going to solve competition in the mobile network - at least, not in the short term - but this case is not materially dissimilar to the Internet service provider industry, which it will transform by turning Telstra into just another reseller. Gen Xers like me and Ben haven't known the broader telco industry to be any different in our adult lifetimes.

The NBN is Ethan Hawke, wearing that stupid daggy shirt but promising a much more interesting life than boring corporate dweeb Ben Stiller. Ethan is currently in Chicago attending his Dad's funeral, but hopefully he'll see the light and return home to start a beautiful relationship.


  1. "... it seems prudent to remind ourselves why the National Brontosaurus Network is necessary..."

    No, mUnty, it is never prudent.

    The NBN is a crime against the taxpayer and will never be completed.

    Deal with it.

  2. Rabz, you can always be relied upon for recitation of boilerplate ideology.

    Original thought, not so much.

  3. Great - and how exactly is a stupid sclerotic government monopoly of the internet, reliant on already outmoded technology, costing the taxpayer frigging billions, in any way a good idea?

    You're the inflexible, ideologue here, mUnty. Sorry to sound judgemental, but I can always pick people as idiots by their stance on the NBN. If you're in favour of it, you're an idiot.

    Simple, really.

  4. Yes, you are simple.

    The NBN is off the balance sheet for a reason, and that reason is that it is going to pay for itself so it costs the taxpayer nothing in the long run. In fact, it will earn the taxpayer many, many billions in foregone monopoly rent that would have been paid to Telstra. Stories like the above one serve to highlight how expensive telecommunications is now in this country due to the Telstra monopoly squashing competition. The NBN is the only viable policy alternative.

    Even the Libs are on board with that now at a high policy level, they only quibble about technical details. The only people who don't support the NBN are dead enders and flat earthers like you, Rabz. You're on the losing side of history here.

  5. "You're on the losing side of history here."

    Fighting words, squire. We shall see.

  6. It is off the budget like Telstra was and Australia Post is.

    It is most definitely on the Balance sheet and always has been to anyone who has ever read budget papers. Obviously judith sloan and the like haven't as they argued for a long time it was off the balance sheet. at least SDFC knew what was right.

    It should be a public good. you cannot have a competitive wholesale market but you can get a competitive retail market as we are now getting.

  7. Off the budget not the balance sheet, thanks Homer, I misspoke.

  8. "It should be a public good. you cannot have a competitive wholesale market but you can get a competitive retail market as we are now getting."

    Huh? There are plenty of examples of private firms running monopoly type operations with regulators looking over their shoulder and are well run.

    You fucking Zombie, Paxton.

  9. Hey Bobseys... Fatboy and Herman Paxton..

    What exactly was wrong with Telstra running as a regulated monopoly? The competition watchdog looked into them and found nothing wrong of any magnitude. So explain your position, you fucking morons.

    And Herman, no sending us on reading assignments which usually amount to 1960's budget papers, you insufferable boring dunce.

  10. The ACCC is a joke. Underfunded, underpowered, irrelevant.

    If you can't see any problem with the Kogan situation then you don't really believe in free markets.

  11. That's your answer? You dribbling moron Monster.

  12. wow brains personified, I say you cannot have a competitive wholesale market and then a genius talks about a private MONOPOLY!!
    Learn the difference. A public good is priced differently. Lower prices and greater output as anyone would know from extremely basic microeconomics.

    Let us be honest the NBN is not like this. Although its prices and products are way better than the market was under Telstra they ere not priced as a public good and they should be!

  13. Summary: A new unaccountable government utility is required to fix the problems of an older accountable privatised government utility. Plus, you get added C-movie reference from the early 90's.

    What an enthralling blog you are running here M0nty.

    Can't wait to see how you free associate other Ben Stiller films like Dodgeball to the events like the HSU scandal.

  14. Hmm, I see it now. Abbott's PPL scheme: never go full retard.