According to recent surveys, more Australians use Telstra BigPond than any other Internet provider. Providing a large range of dialup, cable, ADSL and satellite plans to choose from - it's no wonder that they enjoy this large market share. But unfortunately for their consumers, things have taken a turn for the worse.
Broadband in Australia is not very widespread, and has been slow to rollout. The vast landscape is partly to blame, as it is not profitable for providers to rollout large amounts of infrastructure. For instance, cable Internet is only available in selected areas of Australia's four largest cities. There are smaller providers in some regional areas, but these are the exception rather than the norm. Telstra has been in the process of equipping exchanges around the country with DSLAM equipment for ADSL - but this rollout has been painfully slow.
For those overseas readers, Telstra is the majority government owned telecommunications provider in Australia that owns the majority of exchanges. After the conservative government came to power in 1996, they set in place plans to privatize our national carrier. Currently, 49% is in public hands. Despite a series of record profits, the share price of Telstra has been less than inspiring, and investors are angry. They want returns on their investment - what could Telstra do?
The obvious response is to increase prices - and Telstra have done just that. On landline phones, mobile phones, Internet and wholesale services - there have been price increases. Despite some unrest in the community, these were largely accepted as "part of the reform process". Little did we know that this would only be the tip of the iceberg.
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