No switch-off date yet for Usenet, says Internode


news Internode today clarified that it had as yet set no date for when it will stop providing customers with subsidised access to Usenet Newsgroup services, although it still plans to do so at “some future point”.

The national broadband provider has for some years been providing subsidised access to the Astraweb newsgroup provider for customers as a free value-add option for customers. Popular in the 1980′s and 90′s, Usenet is a distributed Internet discussion platform which still sees a substantial amount of traffic today. The system allows users to host discussions and publish files and is accessed by users through localised mirrors, typically provided by ISPs or web hosting companies. It has also emerged as a major rival to file sharing services such as BitTorrent.

However, it emerged this week that the company has for some time been planning to stop funding the service to customers, with Internode managing director Simon Hackett noting in an internal staff email to employees in July last year — sighted by Delimiter this week — that the ISP expected to retire the Usenet access at “some (as yet undecided) point in the future”.

In a post on broadband forum Whirlpool this morning, Hackett clarified that the situation had not changed since July.

“What Internode expects is that we will at some point no longer provide zero cost access to Astraweb, because it just won’t matter enough any more, and hence the costs of that service just won’t make sense for to continue to carry; In the 1990’s Usenet was a big thing. In 2012, it is far less so,” he wrote. “But the point at which that occurs hasn’t been determined at all.”

The executive noted that Internode had stopped promoting the Usenet service in July last year, in expectation of eventually closing the Astraweb relationship. “Here, 8 months later, we have still not determined the ‘off date’ for that Astraweb relationship,” he noted. “In other words, in that intervening time, precisely nothing has changed. As I write this, it still hasn’t changed. There is still no determined end date.”

“Today, there is still no ‘off date’ for the service, just as there was no ‘off date’ for the service on 5th July 2011. It continues along for those who care, but it is no longer a feature that Internode touts as being a selling feature of our services, and we haven’t done so since that date.”

Customer opinion on the merits of the service being provided by Internode is divided. A number of customers who use the service have stated that they will seek another provider offering Newsgroup services if Internode stops providing subsidised access to Astraweb, with some citing fellow iiNet subsidiary Netspace as one example of an ISP supporting the service. However, others have highlighted the fact that Astraweb’s service only costs a minimal amount — $10 per month for unlimited downloads at 10Mbps, which would not add significantly to existing monthly broadband costs. The organisation also offers a variety of other pricing tiers, depending on how much Newsgroup data customers want to access and how fast they want to access it.

Other Newsgroup servers do exist — such as Thundernews, which offers “unlimited max” plans for US$12.99 a month, Giganews, which offers a range of plans up to US$24.99 a month, and, which offers plans up to $19.99 per month.

It’s not the first time Internode has been concerned about the financial viability of its Usenet service. In May 2007, the company temporarily shut down the service only a year after it first launched, citing the fact that only a small proportion of customers used the service. However, it was quickly reinstated, following customer complaints.

Image credit: Internode


  1. good to hear, I actually have a legit use for it and it was one of the reasons I chose internode years ago…

  2. A highly underrated service. Newsgroups (public email) is for enthusiasts. It will be shut down as easily as email or bittorrent would be shut down.

    Internode cater for enthusiasts, its part of the reason I choose them, and this is part of the reason they do so well, enthusiasts recommend them

  3. Amazing that there is no mention here of the storm-in-a-teacup Renai caused on Whirlpool by bringing up such a nonsense, 8 month old bit of ‘news’ for an article in the first place.

      • Much less gets deleted here than on Whirlpool. I think a lot of mods on Whirlpool are a bit ISP protectionist. I have seen many a post showing “censored” and the user for being inappropriate or off topic or some other excuse when it just exposed some deceipt on the ISPs part.
        It happens a lot in TPG and Node forums especially. I remember one in TPG where a customer had enough of evening slowdowns and mentioned the elephant in the room, peak time congestion. He was being a bit of a pain to the reps there. Evidently “Cherry” had enough and whimed him “I’ve had enough of you. If you make one more post I will make sure you never receive any support in future”. The customer posted this whim into the thread, it was marked inappropriate and he was banned withing minutes.

        • With respect, that has nothing to do with “ISP Protectionism” and everything to do with the Whirlpool Community Rules:

          “The posting of private correspondence (Whims, emails, etc) or transcripts of private conversations (phone calls, face-to-face discussions) are not permitted”

          The poster you’ve mentioned broke the rules. They received a penalty for doing so. I’m not seeing the “grand conspiracy” here?

          • OK, bad example in that case. I have read whirlpool a lot and seen many posts hidden that seemed to have nothing wrong with them other than they outed an ISP or Rep.

            Are you one of the biased mods?

          • Ahh, I see, not mod, but given your position problem with iinet you probably herring offending posts on the iinet forum.

          • I would give you many examples, but it’s hard to find them and paste since the posts were deleted. One that springs to mind is the discussion when Internode was bought by iiNet. There was an ongoing discussion on the people who had just previously been made redundant at Internode, if there would be more, if the people had found jobs. Several pages in fact. Most indicating those people would have already found a job as they were very experienced. Full names were used throughout, it was public knowledge who they were. One post was deleted and the user banned. They had the checked linked in and stated that 3 of the 5 (not sure of the number) had still not found a new position. That post was off topic…

  4. “In the 1990′s Usenet was a big thing. In 2012, it is far less so”

    ..with more torrent sites going down i think he will find this will be the exact opposite

  5. “In the 1990′s Usenet was a big thing. In 2012, it is far less so”
    Strange comment to justify closing it down as it wasnt introduced until 2007 amid a huge fanfare.
    All that drama about being victimised when all it took was confirmation the email was ,in fact,true.
    Keep reporting Renai-we are not all fanbois of an isp which i find wierd,

  6. Agreed, only reason I went with internode. Usenet service goes -> time to find a new ISP.

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