Telstra says it’s been listening to its customers. But I haven’t heard any of them asking for yet another mobile network. Customers are not asking but screaming for better fixed broadband services.

Instead what it’s given them is a technology that only a few other operators around the world are using: 3G technology which will need to be replaced by 4G in a few years’ time, at which point the mobile services will follow the example of the fixed services and become predominantly data, not voice.

And so, in a few years’ time a similar exercise to what Telstra is doing now (very successfully overhauling its fixed network with a next generation network) will be required for the mobile network also. Companies such as Verizon in the USA are already implementing 4G technologies now.

In the meantime, the interim measure will create ongoing problems in relation to handsets and technology. There will never be a choice in handsets to compare with the other mobile services on offer in Australia, and the limited number of handsets that will be available will always be more expensive.

What’s more, while Telstra is claiming that NEX G can deliver wireless broadband, it fails to explain that the costs of this NEX G wireless broadband service will be, at a minimum, $50 a month – easily reaching $100 a month for those who are serious about broadband.

The real story that came out of the Telstra show was the untold story of why Australia doesn’t get true broadband services similar to those offered by the incumbent telcos in all other Western countries. Again ADSL2 was left off the agenda. Telstra is holding the country to ransom; it doesn’t want to offer this service unless the government is going to provide Telstra with regulatory holidays (sheltering it from the competition).

The government has been firm on this; they do want to see viable competition and are not prepared to hand over a new monopoly to Telstra. Telstra’s anti-competitive behaviour in this market also became clear with the indication that the company’s retail share in ADSL had risen from 41% to 44%. The company has increased wholesale prices and is hampering the introduction of new wholesale services and this is clearly affecting the competition.

Telstra also knows that the government will be reluctant to push for the implementations of the new legislation that it has put in place in November last year. While the policies are good on paper, there is a lack of will and/or power to implements them in a timely fashion.

With T3 on its way it is more likely that the government will wait to strengthen regulatory implementation until well and truly after T3. By that time we are getting close to the 2009 review and in all reality that would be the first time that we could seriously look at implementing the 2005 policies. I do find this shocking and unacceptable but unfortunately it is the reality as I see it.

Read more at Budde’s site.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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