Friday, August 2, 2013

Internet access at last

I moved place last month and it took five weeks to get an internet connection set up. The whole process is a rather convoluted mess.

The hold up is due to Telstra, who owns the exchanges and is a wholesale provider to the ISPs.

When you first sign up, the ISP has to find out from Telstra if a connection at the exchange is available. This takes about a week.

Once that is confirmed, you then need Telstra to do some magic with cables so you can actually connect to the service. This normally takes around two weeks, assuming the Telstra person actually shows up to do the work, which didn't happen for me.

So I waited two weeks, only to hear they were too busy to get to my service, then waited another week, and again the Telstra person didn't show up. Actually they did, somehow managing to get access to a locked room in a locked apartment building without needing to be buzzed in.

Helpfully they did not tell me they had come and done the work, which left me a bit confused when I got a message from my ISP saying the connection had been set up.

The final step was to arrange a contractor to hook up my internal phone line to the service.

All up it took three different parties (Telstra, my ISP, the cabling guy) and about five weeks. About four weeks of that was just waiting for Telstra.

This seems excessive, for something as basic as an internet connection. When I moved in, power and water were established, and all I had to do was call the utilities and get them put in my name.

For comparison, I contacted an ISP in Somalia to find out how long it would take to get a connection set up there. Yes Somalia, everyone's favourite failed state/libertarian paradise, subject to civil war for the last 20 years.

It takes about 2 days to get set up there.

In Finland, access to broadband is a legal right.

This is a good example of the case for the NBN, which is a much needed upgrade to fundamental infrastructure. This copper wire stuff is a joke, and there is no way it will suffice 10 years from now.

As I understand it, the privatisation of Telstra is effectively funding most of this, as a spin off from the Future Fund.

Australia lags in technology adoption. It is an economy where 70% of its GDP comes from services, and has a well educated and native english speaking population.

With the AUD more in line with where it fundamentally perhaps should be, it can once again become an attractive destination for larger international companies looking to establish regional presence. Which is also cool for people who want to work in an industry other than resources.

Probably need to catch up to Somalia first.