Digital Tasmania criticises ISPs following broadband issues


news Consumer action group Digital Tasmania has called on Internet service providers to improve their technical performance and customer service standards following issues that have affected Tasmanian consumers in recent days and weeks.

The issues have included “widespread, persistent slowdowns and complete service outage to many customers”, the group said.

Digital Tasmania cited the problems faced by “thousands” of Telstra NBN & ADSL customers around Australia, including in Tasmania, who have been without services since Friday when the firm suffered a glitch when making software updates to customers’ routers.

The update forced some routers to reboot repeatedly, preventing Internet and phone services from working, and had a “knock-on effect to unaffected customers by overloading their systems”, the statement said.

“Telstra took several days to recognise the issue and then simply referred customers to their website to attempt a reset, a difficult proposition if the Internet was not working,” said Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor.

“A viable solution involves changing the router, if customers have their old router about it may work, otherwise they may need a new one,” he added.

Connor continued to say that, over recent weeks, the performance of iiNet, Internode and associated TPG brands in Tasmania has been performing poorly at peak times. This is because their connection, a “congested alternative to Basslink”, has been reaching capacity, he said.

“This was exacerbated on Tuesday night when part of that capacity over Telstra fibre failed causing major slowdowns during the evening,” said Connor.

These brands represent around 30-40% of the Tasmanian consumer Internet market and customers have already experienced eight days of severe slowdowns after the Basslink cable was cut for repairs in March.

Additionally, Digital Tasmania said, “many” customers have not received the promised compensation and credits.

On Tuesday, the operator of the Basslink power cable announced that the repairs had been delayed by a further two weeks due to poor weather and would not back in service until the end of June.

“Reliable Internet is no-longer a luxury, it’s an essential service and needs to be recognised as such,” said Connor, adding that Internet companies need to improve their network and technical capability, as well as customer service channels, to provide “robust” services and assistance to Tasmanians.

“Adequate compensation for downtime needs to be mandated, rather than ‘free data days’ or miniscule pro-rata compensation for days per month of downtime, set penalties for each day of outage need to be set in law,” he said.

Digital Tasmania suggested that, if consumers can’t get their Phone or Internet provider to fix their issue within a “reasonable timeframe” they should contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058 or via its website.

“Tasmanians need reliable communications services, the best way to achieve this is with NBN’s Fibre-to-the-Premises service for most and Fixed Wireless where that is not possible,” said Conner. “Beyond the NBN, Tasmania needs another Fibre Optic cable across Bass Strait to improve resiliency and competition in the communications sector.”

Image credit: Ian Armstrong, Creative Commons


  1. Ombudsman isn’t really going to be able to diddly about the fact a major cable is broken, which is from what I can tell basically the underlying problem here.

    • One must really wonder why on earth there is only one and two halves cables to supply Tasmania from the Mainland?

      Even in Sandgroper Territory we like making fun of our poor relations in the Apple Isle, but we also sympathise. Like us, they are the “forgotten people”, and don’t really matter too much. Unless, of course, they decide the forests should be left as forests and lakes should not be created at the expense of prime forest land.

      But failing to provide adequate comms between Hobart and the rest of Oz is criminal. It’s only a short cable, and there are plenty of places to put it so it can be separated from all the others for safety, to minimise the risk of breaking. I’m reminded of an Oz PM who waffled on about “banana republic”.

  2. ISPs hate building up TIO stats and mass complaints to the TIO will see them named and shamed, publicly.

    Maybe this will be the rocket they need to start thinking creatively about resolving these issues (and even investing some of their mass profits in supporting their customers).

    Everything they have done so far has been an exercise in spending as little as possible where they could have received praise for acting early on the well announced shut down on the Basslink bandwidth, purchasing more than “adequate” bandwidth from Telstra that could even have mitigated this latest issue – and maintaining support and complaint staffing for all who required this avenue of contact.

    “We’d like it if you got what’s going on here. That’d be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we’re holding our breath. ” – Cluetrain Manifesto

    • This won’t generate ‘stats’ though. If the issue is the cable its a wholesale issue over which the TIO doesn’t have jurisdiction so the case will be closed.

      Same issue if you complain to TIO because your adsl goes dodgy when it rains. Its a wholesale issue between RSP and T$ so TIO cannot get involved (unless somethings changed).

  3. Liberal faulty copper. Where more people spend their time offline than online. As expected it’s already happening.

    According to the minister for innovation people don’t need internet let alone fast internet for productivity so 5 days downtime is acceptable. Its exactly what people suffer now so its faulty copper trash not an NBN.

  4. Hmmm, with basslink down, Hellstra has inadequate future capacity to service Tasmania’s entire NBN user base entire bandwidth as sold,

    TPG, was caught in a squeeze play not of their making. One of which is Hellstra’s evil way anti competitive breach of the “Trades Practice Act”.

    Hellstra of course is also suffering from self induced network issue fails arising from the concept one cent in the dollar is to excessive a cost for system wide maintenance, introduced in the late nineties.

    If I read my broadcom based ADSL modem stats correctly. My rotten copper external telephone line currently has less than twelve months life left in it.

    Thank you Hellstra, your service sucks big time as usual since 1999. Hellstra should be forced to spend twenty billion dollars to rehabilitate the rotten copper network, before final sale to NBN.

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