Why Telstra is wrong on VoIP (by Simon Hackett)


In this opinion piece, Internode managing director Simon Hackett responds to comments by Telstra executives earlier on this week about Voice over Internet Protocol-based telephony.

opinion Reading this article, there is just so much wrong with the reported comments from Telstra here about VoIP. Its got technical inaccuracies and factual errors of significant sorts all through it.

I’ll work through a representative sample of what I mean …

To ensure the service provides an acceptable level of quality, Telstra has pledged to spend part of a $600 million package on upgrading equipment in its telephone exchanges with Broadsoft hardware to support quality of service (QoS) techniques to prioritise voice traffic.

Broadsoft make the VoIP soft-switch that handles call switching decisions for VoIP traffic. They don’t make network hardware. So the wrong vendor has been named here in this context. Its like saying that you’re getting a tyre manufacturer to improve the way a plane’s wings work. This speaks to the general lack of accuracy in the statements made.

Next, and more tellingly, when Telstra speak of upgrades needed to make VoIP work properly, its important to understand that this means that Telstra have (clearly) under-invested to date in their ADSL network and its management of QoS in both the backhaul and DSLAM components of their network — but that existing VoIP providers with their own DSLAM networks (such as Internode and iINet) designed in the appropriate QoS right up front.

So the key point to understand is that when Telstra say that VoIP isn’t yet reliable, they are making a statement about the quality of the Telstra network only, not about VoIP in general.

They are saying their network isn’t up to scratch (and apparently requires $600 million to fix it), not that VoIP in general isn’t up to scratch. And clearly the many operators of VoIP services providing them to hundreds of thousands of Australians don’t have the problems with it (nor do their customers) that Telstra feels they should be having.

It’s also surprising to see that $600 million figure in the context of this being a network Telstra intend to shut down in the National Broadband Network era. What are they really spending that money on? Is it really network upgrades, or is that just the size of their marketing/rebate slush fund to try to draw customers back from competitors with subsidised deals? Is this sort of margin erosion the best course of action for Telstra to use to best benefit its shareholders?

Hence it seems that the correct re-interpretation of “we don’t think the quality and reliability is there. We could bring it to the market tomorrow, but we don’t want to” is really “our network isn’t up to scratch as yet, unlike our competitors”.

Next comment to respond to:

Telstra’s small business chief Deena Shiff said Telstra’s ‘voice over broadband’ solution was qualitatively different from iiNet’s consumer-grade VoIP, as Telstra was investing to build quality of service into its exchanges – whereas iiNet’s solution relied only on QoS embedded in its routers on users’ premises.

This is the same mis-statement. iiNet’s network (and Internode’s network) were built with designed-in QoS and with appropriate investments in backhaul capacity so that the quality of VoIP services on those networks is just great. Routinely higher quality than, say, a mobile phone network. In other words, the investments Telstra says it’s making to bring in ‘Quality of Service’ are already done in their competitors’ networks. They’re not doing something others haven’t. They’re merely catching up from a current stance of being far behind in this important area.

“They don’t give you an end to end quality experience,” she said. Shiff emphasised that Telstra’s solution was “not VoIP”, but instead described it as “digital voice”, stressing that the high definition of the audio set the Telstra solution apart.

There are two distinct points to respond to in the quote noted above.

1. Of course the Telstra solution is VoIP. Telstra have named Broadsoft — whose product, Broadworks, is a VoIP soft-switch. This is the very same (high end, high quality) VoIP switching software product that is in use in the national Internode and iiNet VoIP service networks today, and that has been in use in both of those networks since circa 2005. Broadworks don’t make some magic pudding called ‘Digital Voice’ that is not VoIP. They’re one and the same thing.

This sort of sleight of hand is disappointing to see, as its just not an honest representation of a situation where Telstra are catching up to the rest of the market (or rather, are promising that they’ll do so). They’re launching a service using this ‘digital voice’ in a month. Are they really spending $600 million on upgrades in just 30 days, or again, is this figure really just the size of their marketing budget?

2. “High definition audio” is a feature of the current generation “Fritz!Box 7390″ and ‘Fritz!Box 7270” Home/SME ADSL2+ routers that are sold by Internode today.

HD Audio is a standard capability of VoIP services using sufficiently good VoIP hardware (and the Fritz!Box products are simply at the top of the heap in this regard). The quality delivered by a Fritz!Box using its DECT cordless handsets, when calling another HD Audio endpoint (another Fritz!Box or otherwise) is so good that it’s really quite spooky — far and away better in quality than a traditional PSTN phone call. And of course dramatically lower cost (for instance, unlimited NodePhone VoIP to NodePhone VoIP calls on the Internode service are free of per-call charges entirely).

HD Audio uses a standard VoIP CODEC (G.722). This is not a Telstra innovation in any sense. It is, again, Telstra catching up, late and last, with capabilities that its competitors in this space have been offering to the market already.

Finally, and a key point here — while Telstra are framing VoIP as being somehow inadequate for consumer requirements, they are deeply in negotiation with NBN Co to turn off their copper network and move all their voice endpoints nationally over to the NBN. Guess what — the voice ports on the NBN customer termination boxes are actually … VoIP hardware. On the NBN, your “PSTN” service will be turned into VoIP right in the NBN Co fibre termination box and the call will be carried via standard VoIP/SIP protocols — exactly as all VoIP providers already do today.

There is a deep sense in which the statements made about VoIP by Telstra today are simply trying to deflect its own status as the last adopter of this technology by claiming that it is somehow not going to be good enough until Telstra ‘invents’ it via some mysterious magical property imbued upon it by calling it ‘digital voice’ instead of VoIP.

It’s like IP Multicast — a technology that Internode and others use to deliver highly efficient linear TV channels using our FetchTV service. We can’t sell that to customers of ours that we reach via Telstra Wholesale ADSL2+ services, because Telstra haven’t yet seen fit to ‘invent’ IP Multicast. So in their world, it doesn’t exist.

Sorry, but it does. And so does High Definition, high quality VoIP services. Sure, you have to use appropriate hardware at the customer end point (like a Fritz!Box) and you need your network to be built properly.

But everyone in the industry ‘cept Telstra already does these things today.

Image credit: Internode


  1. I’m shocked, fancy a marketing release getting specific technical details wrong, never heard of that happening before.

  2. > HD Audio uses a standard VoIP CODEC (G.722).

    NodePhone doesn’t support this codec, does it?

    • Yep, Nodephone certainly does support g.722, I’ve been using i everytime I call another fritzbox user.

  3. Interesting post about how great VOIP is… and yet.. Delimiter HQ have left VOIP and gone back to regular pstn? Any comment on that?

    • My comment is that I’m tired of experiencing problems with my phone, and while I don’t doubt Simon’s sentiments, I’m not personally convinced by VoIP yet, given my experience with it in both a corporate and a personal sense.

      • It comes down to your VoIP provider, personally I was using Freshtel for a couple of years with no issues. Then they were doing a website upgrade, took ages and I couldn’t top up the account, eventually gave up and on the basis of recommendations on Whingepool gave Pennytel a try.

        Thoughts on Pennytel, crap. Probably about 80-90% of the calls either just didn’t work or got a try again later RVA. I decided to cut my losses and went back to Freshtel earlier this week, so far no problems.

        • Pennytel crap? How odd. I moved from node to pennytel (node’s voip srv had issues with our hardware). I wasn’t 100% happy with the idea (it was someone else’s idea) but I have to admit – it has been pretty good – not perfect.. but saving us a bundle (6 phones).

          I would definately recommend them based on my experience (I have since moved our home phone there too as I was getting annoyed with $80+ bills each month).

          • If you’ve got 6 phones I’d say you were on some sort of plan. In my case with both Pennytel and Freshtel I was on the $0 pay per call plans, maybe Pennytel put a lower priority on the people not on plans?!?!?

          • PennyTel cant give anyone priority over anyone else, except in their own network. Typically no body can give anyone any level of priority outside of their own network.

            PennyTel *could* give plan customers priority over other customers, but once those packets are prioritised and leave their network and enter another, those priority markings arent guaranteed to stick around or be respected for any amount of time.

            Typically packets will be re-classified to match each network providers QoS rules once the packet hits the border of those networks (if QoS is even implemented at all). This is usually by design, as you cant trust that an external party isnt just going to mark every packet with the highest priority to speed everything through.

          • You’re focusing on IP level QOS though, I’d say any problems I encountered would more on a limitation imposed on the interconnect from the IP to switched voice networks. If they are limiting the number of concurrent calls available across the interconnect for the $0 customers it would definitely explain why I had issues with the initial call connections.

      • Try Nodephone. I have a C470 you can borrow if you want, bet you’ll change that view.

        Simon- an opportunity here for a conversion, a Fritzbox or C470 and a Nodephone service for a month :).

      • Renai, your disappointing VoIP “experience” is limited to Skype, isn’t it?

        Our brilliant VoIP experience is five family households in Sydney and the Hunter Valley, all with Internode ADSL, and all using MyNetFone’s $0 WhirlpoolSaver plan.

        Costwise, we call each other for free, and incur call charges of about $3 to $6 per month, including a few calls to mobiles and lots of national calls and some faxes. It certainly beats the $29-$89 call plans from telcos, with their tricky flagfall charges and high per-minute rates!

        As for call quality, the secret is to use an all-in-one modem/router with built-in VoIP ports for end-to-end QoS, such as the NetComm NB9WMAXX.

        And obviously Internode’s typically excellent network architecture has played a big part, too.

        Give real VoIP a try and escape the PSTN extortion.

        • Why is the secret to use an all-in-one router? Isn’t Simon’s response that they do not rely on QoS from the user’s router? Are you saying that Simon is lying?

          • Not at all, Nick!

            If you try to do VoIP by plugging a separate ATA (Analog Telephone Adaptor) device into to one of your router’s ports, your phone call quality will be at risk if there is a sudden data surge such as a Windows software update or ABC IView stream transiting the router.

            However, with a VoIP-aware router, voice data traffic from your phone will be prioritised ahead of everything else on your LAN, regardless of what happens to data over the ISP’s network.

        • “And obviously Internode’s typically excellent network architecture has played a big part, too.

          Give real VoIP a try and escape the PSTN extortion.”

          … or you could buy Internode PSTN, which I assume is NOT extortion why?

      • I have been using voip exclusively for at least 4 years and it has never been anything but perfect. Even on a really crappy 1.5Mbps connection. Calling landlines or mobiles, locally or internationally. No one has any idea it’s not a regular landline. My 65 mother uses voip exclusively on an ADSL1 connection in a small country town. I work for a very large university in Melbourne and the entire phone system is voip and works flawlessly. I’ve also worked for small and medium sized companies who use voip excluseively and its perfect.

  4. I like Internode and all, but really this is just degrading to mud-slinging – These problems seem to be mostly things that a (non-technical) press release writer seems to have added.

    This article doesn’t read like an article, but more a giant advertisment for Internode, or a venting session for Simon. Very low quality journalism here today, I’m not sure if I’ll keep coming back if I countinue to see fluff like this here.

    • That’s because it’s not journalism… It’s very clearly an opinion piece. (Opinion Journalism in my … opinion) It even says so right up the very top!

      “In this opinion piece, Internode managing director responds to comments …”

      • …and good on Simon Hackett and Delimiter for taking the time to respond to the Telstra article. I started using VOIP at home in 2005 with Faktortel on my Billion 7402VGP on Amnet 8/1m connection – my employer at the time had Cisco VOIP and it was brilliant. Although I had the right hardware and a good connection at my end it was what was on the other end which seemed to give the problems. Calling to other capital cities was good but then when the call was to “past the black stump” the call quality became quite variable. The PSTN is “simple and it works” and the average person doesn’t need to learn a whole bunch of acronyms and go tweaking settings to hear the voice on the other end of the line.

        I gave up using VOIP in 2007 as I ended up going onto one of the new capped mobile phone plans. In 2009 I was at another employer and they were changing over from PABX to VOIP and although the call quality was good, there in turn was a visible degradation of an already slow corporate network. It being a staged rollout, HO got the VOIP phones and external offices remained on the old network so they all got a prefix on their number. Then that great feature of Cisco VOIP phones where if you miss a call you can dial it straight back didn’t work as the number on the handset was the full number, not the internal number with the prefix, so that didn’t work. A small matter but very annoying to someone who had used a properly implemented Cisco VOIP phone system a number of years beforehand.

        So a bit of a shambles in the end for me and it’s the seeming variability of the quality of the implementations of all the elements in VOIP phone systems which do seem to preclude it from the not so technically adept (even in one of the largest corporations in the world in my experience…). That ultimately is what prevents VOIP from reigning supreme over PSTN in my opinion. Maybe NBN will solve the problem of how to have a great enough amount of bandwidth to everwhere in Australia so that QOS provision is just merely a small matter in a country wide VOIP network which is accessable to everyone and which provides the same call quality to all those people as PSTN?

  5. When a couple of enterprising companies proposed offering “Internet telephony” in the mid 90s, Telstra lobbied the government to have it banned. 15 years on and they still don’t get it.

  6. Of couse Telstra are going to be late to the party. Why canabalise their PSTN revenue. Sounds like good business strategy. If Internode had monopoly copper network Im assuming they would do the same.

    Agree with above, sounds more like an add than anything else.

    • Agree Angus… still doesn’t make it any more palatable, knowing the others would do the same…

      If only we had a government owned network who could see past those $’s

  7. Renai, Simon has, as is expected, put his exceptional knowledge to the public and he is to be commended for his endeavours to educate those interested. It is now up to those in command at Telstra to respond in a like manner and to present the Telstra opinion as to any discrepancies in the presentation of Mr Hackett.

  8. I am glad Simon got that product name Fritz!Box in, it was crucial to the discussion, wonder who is a exclusive distributor?

    Of course the point about Telstra promoting it’s VoIP product is that same as Internode promoting its Fritz!box, it’s all about trying to get that market edge with so called ‘exclusive’ product launches.

    I assume Internode VoIP with or without a Fritz!Box works ok on the Telstra infrastructure, it sure wouldn’t be going anywhere without it.

    • I prefer Simon’s facts even if laced with some healthy self-promotion considering the alternative is Telstra’s tarted up misinformation.

      What’s wrong with him having pride in a network he built from scratch? Means more to me than thinly veiled excuses from some PR spinner.

      I’ve been a happy Nodephone2 user for more than 2 years now. Thanks Simon.

      • Nodephone works on the Telstra infrastructure just like ALL VoIP does, peruse the VoIP section in Whirlpool to determine the major VoIP players are all much of muchness, you pick the plan suited for you, many have compared Nodephone to other supplier offerings and have concluded there is not much in it.

        • Agile Naked service, using Nodephone, calling say…another Nodephone user, an Optus or Vodafone user or Internationally. The only bit of “Telstra Infrastructure” involved is an inert piece of metal buried in the ground.

          Do the same thing on an Internode fibre service- no Telstra involvement.

    • Alain writes:
      >I assume Internode VoIP with or without a Fritz!Box works ok on the Telstra infrastructure, it sure wouldn’t be going anywhere without it.

      If by Telstra infrastructure you mean Internode’s REACH plans (ie. via Telstra’s DSLAMs), then you’ve assumed incorrectly.

      There are numerous posts on the Whirlpool forums that suggest otherwise. As Simon mentioned in his piece, “Telstra have (clearly) under-invested to date in their ADSL network and its management of QoS in both the backhaul and DSLAM components of their network”

      I’m unfortunately one of these users.

      My first experience of VoIP almost 8 years ago through an Agile DSLAM port using Internode’s NodePhone 1 service. This service was exception considering the lack of competition the incumbent was at that time.

      I’ve recently moved and provisioned an Internode Easy REACH service through Telstra Wholesale and the service isn’t what I’ve been use to. Although I have reasonably synchronisation speeds with the local exchange, the quality of VoIP calls is simply no acceptable. I’d have to completely agree with Simon’s comments about the lack of quality in the Telstra Wholesale network and frustrated that their services aren’t up to the standard of others. If they were, I’d probably still be a customer as I was before i moved to Internode.

  9. I believe Tel$tra’s late adoption is a result of protection of its PSTN revenue. Wouldn’t you protect your income if it was under threat?

    Now with this ‘new’ VOIP thing…. Lets face it, its only Tech-savvy people that are able to decipher the Jargon and use VOIP at these early stages. Sure ISPs are making it easier for people by offering the service bundled but how many of us know someone who simply is just with Bigpond because they think its the only place they can get internet access?

    The Tel$tra adoption of this tech publicly I feel is a good thing; even if it is late. Those people who don’t understand it and just want a cheap home phone are more likely to feel at ease with VOIP with Tel$tra buy-in.

    Tel$tra will overcharge for the magical VOIP and this will prompt the masses to think beyond Telstra and shop elsewhere.

    I have used VOIP for years with MNF. In fact I have shamelessly written a few articles for PC magazines promoting the excellent services and potential cost savings. This has been done of no benefit to myself in any form at all but purely because I feel line rental and call costs by Tel$tra, Optus are just too much and they are taking advantage of people who are simply not educated with all the facts.

    So I can sympathise with Simon on his feelings even if they are favourable to Internode.

  10. I’ve been using VoIP on Telstra infrastructure for 3 years via 3rd-party providers. It’s not perfect, but the quality and reliability is such that I have barely made a PSTN call in years….and saved a bundle of money in the process. Highly recommended.

  11. Again a competitor is wanting Telstra to do the work to upgrade, so they can make a profit.

    The competitors like internode if they want the network to upgrade maybe they should do thier own instead of waiting for telstra, then complain to the accc if they dont get things thier way

    • “Again a competitor is wanting Telstra to do the work to upgrade, so they can make a profit.”

      Sydney, how is Internode set to make a profit if Telstra ‘invents’ VoIP (lets call it, what it is, shall we) despite Internode already having invested heavily in their own Voice network?

      And, if Internode makes a profit, what does Telstra make? Custard?

      Internode, like iiNet, stopped waiting for Telstra to “invent” technology (that every one else in the civilised world seemed to be able to develop years ago) – they’ve simply gone out and built it.

      So, sure, you can “claim” Telstra are hard done by, despite being the incumbent Telco, despite having a stranglehold over Voice and despite being able to out-maneuver the ACCC in virtually every instance.

      Or you can perhaps consider that Telstra has up until recently refused to enter the VoIP market, and has attempted to scuttle everyone else’s efforts, to protect their Fixed Line revenues, rather than actually invent and compete (ironic, given that’s the crux of your argument – competition). :)

    • Again a competitor is wanting Telstra to do the work to upgrade, so they can make a profit.

      ahh Sydney, actually most other ISPs already have VoIP services, and that’s excluding the companies that solely provide VoIP.

      Though you can keep your delusions that everyone in the industry is hanging for every network upgrade Telstra does if you want.

  12. Been using Voip for many years and hope I will be continuing to do so.
    I have saved a fair bit of money on phone calls, sure Voip is not perfect but PSTN isn’t perfect either.

    Some people might be scared or worried to even try it out I was but now been using Voip ever since.

  13. Telstra don’t retail VoIP because it doesn’t comply with teleco laws.

    Telstra do do VoIP for business customers only also do VoIP services over mobile services as well.

    Could Telstra do a nation wide VoIP network… yeah sure could but would internode want Telstra doing an Australia wide VoIP service? and I wonder how soon they would want Telstra turning on such a network?

    I find it odd that Simon is fussing over who’s doing the network or not, when Telstra have their own network and if they need to expand or what ever can do that themselves easily.

    • “Telstra don’t retail VoIP because it doesn’t comply with teleco laws.”

      Which laws?

      Because there are a plethora of VoIP operators whom seem to be able to provide services, just fine.

      Telstra don’t wholesale VoIP, because it would cannibalise and undercut their Fixed Line market. And because they’ve spent nearly a decade claiming it’s evil and wrong. And because they’re typically allergic to wholesaling a service when they can retail it.

      So much so, they face “redefining” VoIP to some new buzzword, no less, because they can’t sell VoIP, it’s evil and all those mongrel ISPs and fly-by-nighters use that, Telstra uses something “more awesome”!

  14. Fritzbox is AWESOME. When I ring someone using Internodes VOIP Nodephone the call quality is simply amazing., even IF I am on TW hardware at the local exchange.[With NO congestion]
    IF Telstra ADSL hardware had QOS then even if the exchange suffers congestion(a lot of Telstra exchanges/rims do) the incoming part of the call would be fine.
    When there is congestion the outgoing call is good but the incoming part of the call breaks up.

    Telstra these days is the Johnny come lately’s of the telco/ISP industry.
    Hell Telstra need’s invent a stuff like a naked phone line still.

  15. Typically you get what you pay for, thus if your voice calls are free of charge or low cost expect the same quality. VoIP and supporting user technology can have a greater dynamic range than simple old POT’s. On a decent low latency connection a VoIP call is excellent quality. On a cheap and nasty connection the reverse applies.

  16. I disagree with Renai. It is like saying that you do not want to move to digital cameras since you had some bad experience with it. VoIP is already a proven technology.
    Many years have past since the first VoIP calls by VocalTech. Since then standards where created, and most vendors have shift to use this technology. If you choose the right vendor and make sure you follow basic guidelines without trying to save on infrastructure – you will get a quality that is better than PSTN.

  17. I still have my doubts with the Fritxbox let alone worrying about VoIP. For a device that costs above average than most VoIP hardware all in ones they seemed to have their fair share of problems.
    Someone where on WP Mr Hackett was quoted as saying that these things just work right out of the box.
    That has not been the case and it’s very evident by other resellers not ever having stock yet that they (Fritz) are wanting to get the product working how it should before it’s really released to the general public, not just the few that have ordered from Internode so far.

  18. I can recall H323 IP Telephony back in 1999, PABX venders started offering H323, for some time ago, Voice over frame relay had been around since early 1990s, Telstra TIPT (Broadsoft) introduced early 2005 I recall.

  19. Well Simon, I remember some time ago Internode having a shot at Telstra/Bigpond with a Kombi Billboard promotions. You prompted them into action then and you came out 2nd and all you could do was cry foul. One would have thought you would have left the boxing gloves in the cupboard.

    Branding of a product is not exclusive to Telstra, but they do cloud the issue with success. Next G instead of 3G comes to mind and it stands out against the rest.

    Yes, I like the way you worked in the Fritz!Box promotion as well, pity they are not available at the moment, so no real benefit to anyone, let alone Internode. It’s a pity about the promises of when it would be available to other vendors as well. Just like Telstra, distort the truth a bit, just to get that edge. Are you that desperate you are getting some inside lessons from someone at Telstra?

    One wonders if the recent speed upgrades TW has given you for your customers are now in jeopardy of being revoked. The fact is you can’t live with them (Telstra) and you can’t survive without them. I think you have been a wonderful quiet achiever in the past, of late you have let your guard slip and everything gets under your skin, just like my wife at certain times of the month.

  20. I read the article T$ yesterday and the spin was to terrible to think through. How Delimiter didn’t call BS on there stuff, stuns me, especially when the spokesperson tried to hide behind being not technically “up there”!. PLEASE!!!!!

    T$ are only introducing this tech now that they are going to be relieved of their service obligations and aren’t going to get serious compensation for maintaining the aging and broken copper network.

    T$ know they are 15 years behind the curve on VoIP and because of their monopoly on POTS (and the very addictive call relay cost model) they were in exactly zero hurry to acknowledge that Australian’s might want this technology, in the same way that no one really wanted ADLS2+ did they……….. remember 1.5mbps being the maximum adsl Internet speed in Australia? T$ managed to introduced ADSL2+ to several hundred exchanges, almost overnight, once Internode did it with their own hardware (yes they were first).

    This is the same T$ that is bringing you clowns this “new and improved” service that they have denied you access to for 15 years because it didn’t fit their business model. That’s how monopolies operate!

      • Renai, please don’t let Delimiter fall for big business press release journalism that has clouded News for so long. T$ (and other providers) prey on the public’s lack of tech knowledge and if journalists can’t call BS out, we are doomed.

        • If I lose patience with people and they’re spinning stuff too hard for too long, I will call BS on it. But I don’t do it constantly … it would lose its potency that way. Instead, I normally prefer to let companies’ rivals or readers themselves call BS on stuff. This sort of stuff will often come out in the comments under the article anyway, as it has this week with Telstra’s VoIP comments.

        • But Homz, surely all the other rags that only regurgitated Telstra’s media release about its magical new round design for the wheel were the ones guilty of press release journalism.

          Renai instead did the same as Four Corners the other week, when they let all the NBN debators say their piece unedited (under the heading “Opinion”), and let the viewer decide who they believe. We’ve heard Telstra, now we’ve heard Simon.

          As someone who first connected to the Internet in the early 1980s with a Wyse terminal from home over an acoustic coupler at 300 baud, I couldn’t find any factual errors in Simon’s spiel, but will await Telstra’s response with interest.

          • Actually, the rabbit-hole goes deeper. The whole reason we’re debating consumer VoIP in the first place is because I asked the Telstra CEO about it directly at the press conference — and followed up with a question challenging his answer. Nobody else was asking about this. My angle didn’t come from a media release to start with.

          • Gee, Renai, keep this up and you’ll undermine the slack reputation which some “investigative” journos have slaved for years over hot press releases to cultivate.

            It’s amazing what can happen when you actually ask a new question.

            Back in the mid-1990s, when local calls ALWAYS cost 25 cents each, a new telco came on the scene offering 15 cent calls. Our company head office made about 3,000 local calls a month, and our purchasing officer laboured to prepare a lengthy argument for Telecom Australia to see if he could wrangle a few cents off them.

            As the Telecom Australia rep sat down at our office, the accountant opened by saying that he had heard that another provider could offer 15 cent calls. The rep casually replied, “Oh, we can do that,” put us on 15 cent calls, and took 40% of the previous two month’s bills as well. Handshake. End of meeting. Then his cup of tea and biscuit arrived.

          • @Renai LeMay

            “The whole reason we’re debating consumer VoIP in the first place is because I asked the Telstra CEO about it directly at the press conference — and followed up with a question challenging his answer.”

            The question and the answer was what?

  21. I find it disappointing that the Australian public are still being conned and lied to by Telstra.
    Telstra are taking advantage of people who do not have the technical expertise to know any better.

    In any other industries this would be considered anti competitive… Apparently the inequity is OK in the Telecommunications industry.

    Internode, please continue to fight the good fight.

  22. After having used VoIP myself since 2005 with great success and having saved thousands in mainly overseas calls, it’s good to see Telstra are finally discovering it and claiming to re-invent it as ‘Digital Voice’ (gulp!). I suppose many traditional Telstra customers will fall for that term and pay three times as much for their Digital Voice service than other happy VoIP users pay for their equivalent if not superior service. The only positive I can see is that Telstra are going to support the G722 codec, resulting in voice quality that exceeds that of PSTN.

    By the way, on the subject of HD telephony, you do not necessarily need a Fritzbox to enjoy HD as the G722 codec is also supported in cordless IP phones like the Gigasets (C470IP and A580IP) as well as a number of other fixed and cordless IP phones like Yealink, Cisco, Polycom, etc. HD telephony, as Simon says, is really ‘something else’, but it requires both caller and callee to have the right equipment as well as the support of the network. It should become the norm once most of us are on the NBN. Currently G722 is not supported on the PSTN network, so it can only be enjoyed on purely VoIP calls.

    I agree with everything Simon wrote in this opinion piece, although it probably would had a bit more impact without the shameless self-promotion.

    • I think many in this discussion are going of into tangents comparing the recent Telstra announcement which is for businesses only not consumers with consumer grade VoIP from the likes of Internode, MNF, PennyTel etc, and rabbiting on about hardware like Fritzboxes and Gigaset phones.

      Just reminder of what the release by the Federal Minister for Small Business and Telstra Business Digital is all about:

      “Starting at $120 per month, the Digital Business package offers a basic ADSL2+ connection to businesses, which will be supplied with a Cisco Router and a Cisco digital phone, with all standard call costs included. The package includes Microsoft’s Exchange Online facilities for remote email and calendar access, included as part of the T-suite hosted services provided by Telstra. Also included are Voice2Email messaging, unlimited access to MessageBank and a domain name for customers to set up a website.

      Customers also have the option to pay an additional $15 per month to have their internet and voice connection automatically switch over to the Telstra NextG network should the ADSL connection fail.”

      No really the same as a VoIP package running on a bog standard Billion modem (QoS or not) with 10 cent national calls is it?

      • Actually the QOS is important, as Simon says (touch your nose) Internode has QOS built in hence why the quality of calls is high, in fact any ISP that providers a VoIP service would (or should) provide QOS on their on VoIP connections which result in a call quality on par with Telstra’s new offering.

        The only comparision call quality wise you could make from a QOS perspective is internet only VoIP providers (like Pennytel, Freshtel, Engin, etc) who are unable to provide QOS on the internet portion of their connection.

        As for the bundling, you’re right, but even me as a non-web designer is capable of producing a website better than the bike shop Telstra were pumping as the latest and greatest.

        • Yes but I’m not really sure what people are complaining about here including Hackett, it’s a Telstra upgrade to certain exchanges for a Telstra Business product which comes with caveats of bundling orientated to a business as outlined above.

          If Telstra want to call it digital voice they can call it digital voice, if they want to call wireless BB NextG they can call it NexttG.

          If you (as a business) don’t like it buy something else, there are plenty of Telco’s and ISP’s with business grade VoIP packages to choose from, buying a Digital Business package from Telstra Business is not compulsory, sounds like a lot of trivial whining about sweet FA to me.

          • Forgetting the bundling for a moment (because that’s really just an add on anyway).

            Can you explain what the difference is between this Telstra business grade product and the QOS VoIP service implemeneted by the likes of Internode? Besides one being labelled “business” grade I’m failing to see much of a difference technology wise between them.

          • Why do I have to explain the difference? – I run a small business and I want to upgrade my communications, I ring around, I look at supplier websites, I compare , Telstra may get the deal they may not I might decide on Internode or iiNet or Optus is better for my needs.

            What’s the big deal here? – Hackett is miffed the Federal Minister for Small Business didn’t cut a ribbon on Nodephone launch day?

          • You said ..

            I think many in this discussion are going of into tangents comparing the recent Telstra announcement which is for businesses only not consumers with consumer grade VoIP from the likes of Internode, MNF, PennyTel etc, and rabbiting on about hardware like Fritzboxes and Gigaset phones.

            You’re saying the Telstra implementation is business grade, and the Internode (and similar ISP type implementations, so not Pennytel, etc) are consumer grade. I’m asking for you to explain from a technical perspective what the difference and why the Telstra business grade is better?

          • You can get all of this from MNF and PennyTel consumer VoIP that can be used on any ADSL: modem on any 1500/256 and higher ADSL plan from any ISP?

            “Starting at $120 per month, the Digital Business package offers a basic ADSL2+ connection to businesses, which will be supplied with a Cisco Router and a Cisco digital phone, with all standard call costs included. The package includes Microsoft’s Exchange Online facilities for remote email and calendar access, included as part of the T-suite hosted services provided by Telstra. Also included are Voice2Email messaging, unlimited access to MessageBank and a domain name for customers to set up a website.”

            as well as the $600m Broadsoft QoS exchange upgrades.

            I noticed you said this as well.

            “‘Forgetting the bundling for a moment (because that’s really just an add on anyway).”

            No you cannot forget the bundling it’s not a add on because you cannot take that particular Telstra digital business product without the bundling.

          • You’re avoiding the question, which was ..

            Telstra Business Digitial Voice, why is it better then the Internode Residential VoIP product?

            Not talking anything the voice part of the offering, and only those two products.

          • Well buy the Internode product then, no skin off my nose, you evaluate what’s on offer and make your own business decision.

            I mean we can go all day with rhetorical ‘why is it better’ questions like that, why buy BigPond ADSL2+, why buy Internode ADSL2+, why buy Dodo ADSL2+ why buy MNF why buy PennyTel etc etc.

  23. @alain ..

    Well buy the Internode product then, no skin off my nose, you evaluate what’s on offer and make your own business decision.

    Again, you are avoiding the question. The question of why Telstra Digitial Voice is apparently better than other offerings (and I don’t know why you keep bring up Pennytel and other internet provided VoIP solutions since we all agree they have no ability to apply QOS) is the basis for the whole piece we are commenting on.

    The entire basis of your argument of why the Telstra offering is better is because it’s bundled with other things, not that the actual quality of the voice being offered is any better.

  24. This is just Telstra wanting to squeeze every last drop of landline revenue from the copper network. Once the NBN is functioning (and the copper network is gone) home users will have VoIP only to choose from then you’ll see them change their tune very quickly

      • “Yeah of course they do but best not to mention that Internode and most other other ISP’s sell resold Telstra PSTN products as well, I assume they do it because they make money out of it.”

        So does Telstra. Ignoring the fact that Telstra charge for virtually all wholesale services — and in some cases using some pretty arbitrary values — doesn’t mean it magically disaapears and is irrelevant.

        ISPs sell physical voice services because there is a demand, both for the service, and for a service from not-Telstra. It’s called choice. Choice is good, Sydney, because it helps drive competition, differentiation and growth.

        A lack of choice causes stagnation, both in products (or services) and in cost to consumers.

      • Rather, “choice is good, alain”.. appologies for getting you and Sydney mixed up, you both share the same sort of thought processes. ;)

  25. Brendan totally agree with you concerning choice and competition. Alas that the ACCC do not agree with us as their support for the NBN monopoly and the banning of all competition demonstrates.

    • “Brendan totally agree with you concerning choice and competition. Alas that the ACCC do not agree with us as their support for the NBN monopoly and the banning of all competition demonstrates.”

      You support choice, as long as that choice is only Telstra. Yes? Because that’s how the above reads. Given previous comments, it’s very difficult to NOT draw that conclusion.

      In which case, I don’t thing “agree” means what you think it to mean. ;)

      NBN is a wholesale based monopoly. Telstra operates a Retail based monopoly, with Wholesale bolted on, as an afterthought. Said Retail Monopoly currently places profit and shareholder returns above all else.

      Yes, one supplier is not ideal, however — and I think this is a pretty vital point — Telstra is fundamentally a Retail supplier. It has a long standing conflict of interest, with it’s Wholesale arm.

      I’d prefer to see genuine multi-company, multi-infrastructure competition, but, frankly, if the choice is between a vertically integrated, Retail behmoth (that has a history of flouting regulations) and a (level) Wholesale alternative, I’m going to go with option number two.

      It’s unrealistic, wasteful and ultimately defeating to have 300 suppliers all deploying fibre to the same locations. It is, however, efficient to have one wholesale provider, that even Telstra would use.

  26. If you can’t afford to use Telecom then please use internet for your telephone calls and leave the civilised populous in peace.

    Mosman NSW
    Sent via dialup from my Telecom landline

  27. Sydney please stop the hypocritical each way bet…

    You support Telstra’s last mile monopoly with all the vigour those shares of your’s can muster, but cry NBN monopoly… unbelievable!

  28. I have been using Pennytel for several years, both with a Belkin 2 VOIP Port DSL2+ modem and as a Soft phone using a third party softphone ( almost broadcast quality ) (using multiple connections off the same service ). Voice messages sent as email I like, also the ability to send SMS messages from the website. However some issues with service staying connected to other end after hangup . Huge plus with some legal issues in that the softphone has a record call function. Utility company and other business/provider problems clear up very quickly when they know you are also recording the call (by law you must advise when call is being recorded, often wondered when their announcement advises call is being recorded whether I have to advise the same ). Modem provides the QOS and I use 10K tunnel. The only issue is the constant dropouts on the ADSL2+ (4Km using TPG ) sometimes off for 1/2 hour or more

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