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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 12:13

Telstra Next G network ‘slow’ in Melbourne CBD – and Sydney, too. Featured

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Telstra Next G - the network that's starting to equal Vodafone? Telstra Next G - the network that's starting to equal Vodafone? Image Credit: Digital mischief...

News reports saying Telstra’s 3G/Next G network in the Melbourne CBD is slow has frustrated many who have taken to popular telco forum Whirlpool to complain, but as was reported about Sydney in the past, Telstra Sydney CBD network suffers under the load of all its users, and is slow at times, too.

Over the past few days, I’ve been in the Sydney CBD doing various things – attending events, radio and TV interviews, visiting friends, eating lunch or dinner, doing work and plenty more.

Natuarlly, I’ve been using a 3G and 4G capable smartphones while I’m out and about, and I’ve noticed over these past few days that, most especially during the afternoon peak as people get towards the end of the work day, both before and after they go home, that Telstra famously super-fast network has been infamously super slow.

As someone said in Asher Moses’ Fairfax Media article, which reports on the issues facing Melbournians on Telstra, and which were originally reported on at Whirlpool’s excellent telco forums here, the issue is not one of coverage.

What happens, as has happened to others, is not a lack of service bars or reception, or an inability to make phone calls. It’s an inability to get data to appear on your screen when browsing, make speed tests or anything else.

Things just turn incredibly slow, and appear to stop working at all, making you wait, press the “refresh” button, try going from Airplane mode back to cellular radios on – anything to see if you can get data flowing again to your phone.

Indeed, after having been used to Telstra’s superlatively superfast 3G and 4G speeds, having your once blindingly fast mobile turn into a refugee from the Vodafone network suffering from data blind spots – while remaining at all times on the Telstra Next G or 4G networks – is incredibly disconcerting and annoying.

It even makes you think as to what might happen to the world if our data connections just stopped one day forever – no more Google, no more IMDB or Wikipedia, or Gangnam Style, or anything.

Losing your ability to do data on a smartphone gives it a digital lobotomy and removes a lot of its “smart” utility, and it makes you wonder what the heck is going on.

Thankfully, I have an Amaysim-powered smartphone with me as well, with connects to the Optus network. Yesterday, as I was having issues with my Telstra connection, Optus just worked, which was a great relief.

It was around 4pm, but every day this week in the mid afternoon onwards, I seem to be having these Telstra ‘slow’ network issues.

It was only earlier this week that I helped a friend in Sussex St in the Sydney CBD to upgrade to a brand new and wonderfully fast Core i7 Toshiba notebook, and to upgrade two old iPhone 3GS models to two shiny new iPhone 5’s – on Telstra.

Here we were, sitting on Sussex St with LTE enabled iPhone 5’s – and Siri would not work, complaining she was having issues.

Yet, we then connected those iPhone 5 models to a Wi-Fi from my friend’s iiNet ADSL 2+ connection in his business, and whammo – Siri worked immediately without issues.

Go back to LTE, or force the phone to 3G only, and bam… very slow or no data.

Clearly, Telstra is pushing its network for all its worth, getting as many customers onto the system as possible and then dealing with the data connectivity issues, hoping the once stellar reputation for Next G and action on putting in more towers and more backhaul will save the day.

The problem is, in today’s world and whirl of Whirlpool forums, it’s easier than ever for people to share their issues and talk together to realise there’s something bigger happening, that it’s not them personally but the actual network that’s failing.

Well, it’s time for Telstra to fix it, fix it fast, give us timelines for when the work should be complete, to publish speed tests at various times of the day and parts of the city, and to be FULLY UPFRONT about what the flying frizzle is going on with the Next G and 4G networks.

Newly customer service focused Telstra needs to know that glacially slow 3G data is akin to a SERVICE OUTAGE and must be treated like one for end-users to take Telstra seriously!

We WANT TO KNOW if the network is playing up by seeing updates on some Telstra “service status” page. We want to know what is happening. We don’t want to be left in the dark, or treated like, um… mushrooms.

Telco users in Australia have had to put up with enough effluent from Telstra over the years, let alone Vodafone or Optus, and it’s just NOT GOOD ENOUGH to kinda hope you can quietly fix these things on the side.

After all, look what happened to Vodafone when it tried to ignore the problem.

Now, all the Vodafoners have gone to Telstra, who doesn’t appear to have been fully prepared for such an influx.

But where to go if Telstra fails? At least there’s Optus, but Optus too has gone through this nonsense before, back in 2008 when the new, at the time, iPhone 3G, completely overwhelmed the Optus network, something that was then replicated a couple of years later with Vodafone’s Vodafailures.

So, although Telstra’s CBD connectivity issues have previously been reported on… clearly… much more work needs to be done.

You’d imagine that Telstra employees – even the famous tough negotiator that is Telstra’s biggest T, David Thodey – would be having these issues themselves, uness there’s some super secret Telstra CEO only network that we’re all unaware of.

Where’s the grief from Telstra’s own employees? Where’s the thundering Thodey and all his promises of CUSTOMER SERVICE screaming blue bloody murder at his technical people?

Well, Telstra’s certainly getting some grief with this article. Time to FIX the network. It’s only going to get MUCH WORSE otherwise… especially over the next few weeks until Christmas is truly upon, where our CBDs will be busier than ever.

Telstra’s might once have had a yank asking “why didn’t you call, Chuckie?”.

Today’s answer is because I couldn’t get a data connection for Skype to work because Next G is No G at various times of the day.

Over to you, Telstra. This isn’t a case of getting call waiting activated, it’s an involuntary case of data waiting instead!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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