Tassie Govt criticises TPG over Basslink Internet issues


news The Tasmanian Government has expressed its disappointment over service interruptions for customers of TPG’s Internet service provider brands following the cutting of the Basslink cable.

The government has now spoken to affected ISPs “urging them to buy more capacity on the remaining Telstra cables”, according to a statement from Michael Ferguson, Tasmania’s Minister for Information Technology and Innovation.

“Our understanding is that customers of TPG (which includes iiNet, Internode and Netspace brands) have been affected while customers of other non-Telstra ISPs are provided for,” said Ferguson. “Today, I have spoken to TPG senior management to put forward the concerns of Tasmanian customers. I have been assured that TPG are aware of the issues and will continue to expand their use of the ample Telstra capability.”

The cable cutting was carried out in 10 March as part of repairs to a fault found around 98km from the Tasmanian coast.

Following the action by Basslink’s repair crews, many Tasmanian Internet users relying on TPG’s ISP customers are experiencing far slower speeds than normal.

Basslink has said further cable cutting may be required to fix the “complex” fault and that the entire process may not be completed until late May.

Mr Malcolm Eccles, Basslink CEO, explained that finding the “probable location” of the fault was an important step in the process of restoring services.

“While there remains some more days of work and analysis to be done before we can provide a more accurate estimate of return to service, it is an important milestone,” he said.

Telstra – which Telstra owns and operates two fibre bundles across the Bass Strait – has advised that there is sufficient capacity to cater for all Tasmanian retail and wholesale customers, according to Ferguson.

He noted that other non-Telstra ISPs had been prepared for the anticipated cutting of the Basslink cable, and that government traffic was shifted off the cable “earlier this month” to avoid interruptions to “important services”.

“In my discussions with Telstra Wholesale this morning, I also reminded them of the importance of constructively receiving requests for more capacity from TPG. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Tasmanian Government cannot dictate commercial terms to either party,” he said.

However, a Basslink spokesman has reportedly told The Sunday Tasmanian that an attempt to strike a short-term arrangement with Telstra had proved “uncommercial”.

TPG has undertaken to review the situation with a view to purchasing extra capacity from Telstra to “adequately service their Tasmanian customers”, the minister said.

Meanwhile, Tom Godfrey, spokesman for consumer advocacy group Choice, has said that Tasmanians suffering as a result of the cable cutting should be allowed to switch services.

“If the provider can’t deliver, consumers should be compensated and have the option of ending their contract without penalty,” The Mercury reported Godfrey as saying.

Image credit: Office of Michael Ferguson


  1. It’s a bit rich to blame TPG for what is ultimately a cable fault.

    You don’t just call Telstra and say “Hi, can we have some capacity on your cable please?” – and have it up and running in five minutes. There are plenty of things to do to get routes up and running.

    It’s not hard to do, but it takes time.

    • Time? Yes…ample? Not convinced…you don’t just “turn these things on”. Inter-cap bandwidth is an expensive component in the Australian telecoms industry, and it’s not as simple as you might think.

      TPG communicating? Yeah, I agree that most ISPs in Australia don’t communicate with their customers very well. There would be a lot less jumping up and down if they explained their situation.

      • I think the conversation probably went along the lines of:
        TPG: “Hi Telstra, we have a fault with our cable, can we buy some capacity off you wile we fix it please?”
        Telstra: “Hi TPG. Sure, not a problem. Please sign this paperwork and we’ll talk”
        TPG: “Huh? We need to sign an NDA just to talk to you?”
        Telstra: “SOP. Please sign it or we simply can’t discuss this further.” TPG: *grumbling* “Fine. Now, can you help us?
        Telstra: “Of course! Please sign this paperwork and we’ll get it sorted out for you ASAP :-)”
        TPG: “Erm, Telstra? We only need capacity from your cable for two months while the repair work is undertaken. This contract requires a monthly subscription for 48 months at greater than commercial rates. We’re a wholesaler – we know how much capacity is costing your customers and how much it costs you to operate. What are you playing at?
        Telstra: “As a wholesale cable operator yourself, you’ll be more aware than most that it’s important to carefully balance capacity utilisation against what is actually available. I’m this case providing such a large chunk of bandwidth to a single customer adds substantial additional overhead and risk to the operation of our Tasmanian cable assets. With your cable offline we will have the only remaining operating cable to the Tasmanian mainland, so it will be more crucial than ever to ensure our services remain highly reliable during that time. Additionally, allowing for a contract at a longer timescale enables us to collect usage data of a reasonable length time period in order to plan capacity for our network, which helps you and other customers in the future.”
        TPG: “But we don’t need a contract for four years, we won’t use it for four years, you won’t collect any data for four years – we need it for one to two months. That’s IT. We are prepared to pay commercial rates for this capacity – why are you forcing us to pay so much greater than any other customer, and force us to sign a contract for a longer term than we need?”
        Telstra: “Because you need us, you have nowhere else to go, and you thought you could come along and disrupt us. Oh, did I say that out loud? Ah, just remember the NDA you signed, mmkay? You have our offer, we look forward to your business. You know where to find us. Good day.”

        TPG: “We attempted to negotiate capacity on Telstra’s cable, but their terms were uncommercial. We will go back to them and have another chat (but if you think that will do a whit of good, you don’t know Telstra)”.

    • I don’t know Tinman_au, why DO the LPA love pushing people on to Telstra?

      *waits with unrestrained glee for punch line*

      • They want to support their Charlie Foxtrot and ensure it can be the very best Charlie Foxtrot it can be?

    • Can’t see the Lib gov there doing that, people might think they actually care about those that vote them in!

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