TPG Is Buying iiNet: The Questions That Need Answering

The news that TPG would buy iiNet this morning came into our news feeds like a wrecking ball. It's a massive acquisition that many expected would go the other way. It's a unique acquisition in that it raises more questions than it answers.

Here are our big questions.

Does TPG oppose additional piracy regulation and data retention in the same way iiNet does?

TPG has form when it comes to policing piracy. For some time now it has sent customers notices informing them that they've been breaching the copyright of studios when downloading protected material, which puts them at the diametric opposite end of the spectrum to iiNet's views on piracy.

Even in the face of additional government legislation, iiNet has put itself between the government and its customers in a bid to protect them from so-called Big Copyright.

Right now iiNet is fighting a battle in the Federal Court against the studio behind Dallas Buyers Club, which sees the ISP refusing to hand over data on customers who have been allegedly caught pirating the film. iiNet is the only ISP in the case, with other Aussie ISPs happily handing over the data on their customers.

Whether copyright notice-serving TPG will agree with iiNet's "boo fuck you" stance on copyright remains to be seen. The same goes for data retention, which iiNet also has taken a strong stand against.


Will the customer service levels of iiNet suffer?

Let's face it, TPG has a bit of an image problem, especially when it comes to customer service.

iiNet is great for customer service, with social media channels, local call centres and prompt response times. TPG is decidedly less so.

Of course TPG will always say it has the highest levels of customer support possible, but only time will tell if the excellent support from iiNet suffers as a result of the acquisition.


Will TPG and iiNet continue to trade as separate companies post the acquisition, or will one absorb the other?

iiNet is known for buying up boutique ISPs and slowly integrating them into its own brand. Some of them — like Internode and Westnet — stick around, offering their own services and customer service support, but at the end of the day it's a whiteboxed version of iiNet.

TPG also has a string of acquisitions under its belt, including PIPE Networks and the consumer arm of AAPT, but whether it will integrate a massive brand like iiNet into its own brand stable remains to be seen.

We've asked all these questions of iiNet this morning, and will update you if we hear back.


Comments

    As an Internode customer, all I care about is unmetered Netflix!

      As an Internode customer, I'm now very nervous. iiNet has more or less allowed Internode to continue operating as their own entity. Who knows what TPG will do if they sweep in and take over...they could shut Internode down completely for all we know.

        TPG has bought other ISPs and they still seem to work somewhat independently. Chariot is one example.

        Last edited 13/03/15 11:30 am

      As an internode customer, all I care about is my annex-m adsl.......

        You can say goodbye to that when one day they integrate their systems with iinet's unless you go on a business plan.
        iiNet don't offer Annex M profiles for consumers

        Last edited 18/03/15 5:09 pm

      Like nearly every TPG customer, Im on unlimited. What's this metered you speak of?

      unmetered, metered, no difference when its so easy to get 500GB plus a month plans now

    "It’s a massive acquisition that many expected would go the other way"

    Economics 101: Companies with a $1 billion market cap don't "takeover" companies with a $6 billion market cap. Further, people forget TPG already own 6.25% of iiNet.

    The only X factor here is someone else making a higher bid for iiNet.... but I doubt that would come from Telstra or Optus has both know the ACCC would make noise.

      I was under the assumption iiNet was bigger than TPG and was the #2 ISP in Australia behind Bigpond, so it's certainly surprising to me.

        AFAIK, iiNet is #2 based on number of DSL ports they offer across Australia - they have slightly more than Optus. In terms of revenue etc. they are far from the biggest.

      Wait, just some clarification for my simpleton mind: TPG is a bigger company than iiNet (in terms of revenue, market share and that sort of thing?)

        It was a surprise to me as well. I've now learnt they actually own infrastructure (which iiNet does not) as well as acting as an ISP.

          Well there you go. Although, I thought iiNet would have acquired some infrastructure when they bought TransACT, but then maybe the NBN bought that part from them...

          TPG are actually putting down their own fibre too. Direct to customers homes.

    As an ex Soul Pattinson employee (2001-2011), I watched over 160 friends get walked out and fired after the TPG buy out, they are a tight ass company with an even tighter CEO, i remember they made us sell off all our Cisco equipment and move to shitty Hauwaei, I really feel for all the iiNet employee's, chances are most will lose their jobs. It's a shame to see such a great ISP go down like this.

      There are plenty of people who could sat the same about iiNet's acquisitions in the past, particularly OzEmail.

        Much of the 'good' talent from OzEmail was retained. Only those standing in the way or not committed to the cause were shown the door.

      same thing happened with AAPT, they came in and started making people redundant before they bothered to figure out who was useful or not. Multiple times they got rid of people who had the most knowledge and knew how to fix things when they broke. Then they gradually replaced everyone with staff in manilla, without bothering to train the manilla staff properly before making the AU staff redundant.

      Soul Pattinson was bought by API (Australian Pharmaceutical Industries). What is this acquisition by TPG that you speak of?

        The Soul Pattinson group had a telecommunications arm (SP Telemedia), which was merged with TPG.

        http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20080207/pdf/317bmcyj1px4gw.pdf

      Since when are Huawei routers shitty? They're much easier to monitor customer traffic on than the Ciscos, just ask the Chinese government.

        No its the other way around, just ask Snowden.

        Why would you trust Cisco when they have PROVEN backdoors for the government (and presumably hackers if they can find it) to access. Whereas the only thing against Huawei is some unproven claims from the US? From the US of all people, like yeah they don't have an agenda that wants everyone to use cisco and able to spy on everyone.

          just ask anyone who has to support Huawei NTUs. I know of at least one bug which allowed them to be hacked to change DNS settings, then pointing users to websites do d/l malware. Yeah, great security there Chinese gov't !

            How about you cite a source then? I've never heard of this claim about these "NTUs". Because it sounds like every other unproven Cisco and US accusations trying to smear its competitor.

    From a service perspective I suspect business will be largely uncharged. TPG will continue to operate as a budget service and iiNet will continue to operate as a premium service.

    My guess is their data networks (TPG will gain services like Fetch and unmetered Netflix) and infrastructure (DSLAM) will be merged long term and iiNet will follow TPG's lead regarding metadata, piracy, etc.

      So it's all negatives for us iiNet group customers and all positive for the TPG customers.

        No, it isn't. You do realise that iinet have never owned a backbone, don't you?

        They have always leased off other providers. TPG on the other hand own PIPE and AAPT and it's own fibre all around Australia.

        I'd say it's a win-win-win. The iinet customers get a better network than they have now. The TPG customers should get fetchtv.

        TPG are only "the cheap brand" at the consumer end.

        On the business side, they are far more premium than anything iinet could ever hope to provide.

      I doubt TPG will offer unmetered Netflix when you can get unlimited for $60/month.

    I used to have to deal with TPG when I worked in the industry. Let's just say their network guys would not be described as "competent."

    This does not bode well

      How many years ago was that?

      I've been with TPG now and the network has improved a great deal, especially after the purchase of AAPT and PIPE.

        Their higher level network ops guys were useless back in 2008. We had to explain the finer points of BGP routing to them. They would blame our routers, but the problem was very much in their network. I wouldnt trust them to run a home wifi router

        Last edited 13/03/15 6:54 pm

          Fair enough, but I'm sure there has been staff turnover in your company in the last 7 YEARS, know what I mean?

          Last edited 15/03/15 12:31 am

            The staff of PIPE networks are some of the biggest morons I've had the pleasure of dealing with.

            Accounts team is in shambles and regularly loses track of everything you have done with them - I'm not sure if it was just the acquisition period but its still disgusting and completely un-australian.. in-humane to be more fair.

            TPG itself is more long waiting times then getting put through to a numskull in *insert 3rd world country here* who will tell me to turn it off and on again and telling me my cables are faulty before coming back to an Australian who will actually assist.. its normally a convoluted process that ends up with resolve.

              PIPE was always fantastic, I have not had anything to do with them since the buyout though

    I am a long time customer of iinet and I stay due to the excellent customer service. If TPG does not maintain that level of customer service, their customer base may become much smaller very quickly.

      TPG's customer service is great! I have hardly ever had any issues and when I have, they have always been fixed promptly and without fuss. +1 for TPG!

      Been a customer for over 10 years now

        +1 I've been a customer for 3 years and my only regret is not giving internode's expensive pricing the boot.

        I used to pay $150 a month for my internet, now it's only $60.

        Same, TPG for 5 years. While I'd wish I could get the same awesome internet as people from Europe or Asia, TPG is prob the best bang for your buck in Australia.

    as an ex TPG customer and a current Internode customer all i can say is that this scares the Shizznit out of me. i hated TPG, their customer service was shite, their connection reliability is shite, they're just shite, there, i said it and im not going back, but i will say that Telstra is starting to look more and more attractive at this rate and im more then willing to jump ship if TPG screw the pooch on this take-over.

      Telstra is the worst ISP ever! good luck with your move! You'll regret it!

        well, they may be my only option if i move to cable internet. especially seeing i dont have NBN in my area.

          It won't bee too long before your cable is NBN.

          if you can get cable, get it. The plan is next year to upgrade it to DOCSIS 3.1 and offer everyone gigabit speeds.

        I couldn't agree more with you. That's why I left those idiots about 3 years ago in favor of Internode. Internode has only been excellence in customer service, plus never had experienced any issues during these years. Highly recommend Internode........

      That must have been many years ago.

      The customer service is excellent and i've only ever had a dropout when there is work being done at my exchange.

      I'm with Telstra now and i've been considering going back to iinet. I'm on the top tier cable with Telstra and the connection is inconsistent and laggy in gaming, their customer service is severely lacking and while the download speeds are good, thats about it, and its inconsistencies are terrible.

      Last edited 14/03/15 5:46 am

    At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if TPG take over iiNet but use iiNet's branding and dump their own. They don't have a very good rep among the IT world down here (Pretty much every techie I know is on either Optus, iiNet or Internode)

    They really are two entirely separate markets so I do see this merger going through, whether they'll let me keep my glorious Internode is another matter entirely. But, imagine a world with TPGs unlimited plans, iiNet's infrastructure and Internode's customer support....

      That last sentence gave me an interwebs boner.

      imagine a world with TPGs unlimited plans, iiNet's infrastructure and Internode's customer support

      I'm trying to..... believe me I really REALLY hope so...

      Unfortunately I keep imaging a more likely world with iiNet's plans, TPG's super lean and barely capable infrastructure and offshore reading-from-the-book-template customer support.

        I'm just hoping TPG are greedy. If they are, they'll leave iiNet to do its thing and skim off the profits. iiNet have a very valuable brand, even more valuable than Internode's.

        Just as long as my precious Internode if left unharmed I can live TPG.

          I'm with internode, too. And as long as I can keep my annex-m and ipv6 stack I'll be happy.

      My uncle used to work at Internode, in fact he worked there when it was just a bunch of guys in their garage. When iinet bought them out he was very quickly made redundant, along with a lot of other people.

      Thats not saying they aren't still great its just.. mergers and buyouts are always ..tricky..

    Does no one else find it comical that people are worried about what's going to happen to customer service. That people are saying that iinet were always helpful. If iinet are so good, why are so many people having to contact customer service?
    I've had TPG at my latest residence for 3 years and not had any issues that weren't resolved quickly. I've used many different providers and will never pay a premium for customer service. I just want fast cheap internet.

      Exactly the same here! Never had any major issues with TPG. I actually left iiNet at my mum's house because of the I crappy service that constantly dropped ou. Calling tech support was an ordeal! 20mins plus to talk to someone that actually had less knowledge than myself. Telling me I had other devices connected to my phone line but I didn't. Bunch of wankers. My mum now used TPG also. Cheaper and better service.

      If iinet are so good, why are so many people having to contact customer service?
      iiNet are good. And its not because they're not that people call their helpline. It's the instances that WHEN people call for whatever reason, iiNet are always extremely helpful.

        Exactly this. I've only called them a couple of times in the 8+ years I've been with them, but they are extremely helpful, relatable and quick to recognise any issues I'm having. I only ever call for major issues, so it always surprises me how quickly they can understand the issue and resolve it for me. So I'm willing to pay the premium they charge for this service.

        This is the first time I've ever gushed over phone based customer service.

        Last edited 13/03/15 1:26 pm

          Spot on. I've had iiNet give me extensions on my bill with no questions asked, give us free ADSL1 for a month while we waited for a port to free up for ADSL2+ after moving house and whenever I get off the phone with them I always feel great. I was with Internode previously (pre-buyout) and Telstra before that and iiNet smashed both of them in terms of service (especially Telstra, obviously). I am really worried about TPG as I've never heard anything good about them from anyone except randoms on forums with especially low post counts.

        iiNet may be ok but most of their Price point Plans expensive in cost (some similar to their partner Internode) and their Rapid Transfer process is poor.

        Price Plans should be a Level playing Field as other ISP's and this is the exact reason along with the overpriced NBN and the Federal Government's failure to intervene on the matter why TPG is interested in buying iiNet.

        Consumers and Users of the NBN have themselves to blame for still supporting it in the first Place.

      What you're saying is that in 3 years, all the problems you've had are fixed by following a script.

      Many problems are not so easy to resolve and require the ability to analyse and think for yourself.

      2 things actively discouraged in the offshore call centers.

        I never said such a thing. Last time I contacted them, they sent a Technician out on a weekend to inspect the phone line, found out it was the Telstra pit full of water causing trouble with the phone lines.

        iiNet has call centers in Manila.

        You're argument is invalid.

        Keep wasting your money.

    As an iiNet customer who switched from Optus 5+ years ago I'm going to try to remain optimistic and think of how this news could benefit iiNet customers:

    1. At least it's not Optus
    2. Hopefully TPG will leave iiNet to operate as business-as-usual - especially their customer service.
    3. Maybe it will hasten the NBN rollout to my house.
    4. At least it's not Optus

      3. Maybe it will hasten the NBN rollout to my house.
      No private business deals are going to help with that.

    umm http://whirlpool.net.au/survey/2010/ i know not current but thats the best i can find atm.

    Everyone i know HATE tpg, everytime i call tpg its rubbish (so is telstra home support), i call interndoe/iinet/westnet/netspace, etc i always get good service and can speak proper english.

      yup, their local call centers are what makes them so awesome in my opinion.

      Yep - Canstar's current broadband summary page also shows westnet/iinet/internode up the top and TPG down the bottom:
      http://www.canstarblue.com.au/telecommunications/broadband/

      A few years ago, I was with Internode. My dsl sync speeds would drop from ~10mb/s to ~3mb/s worst case scenario when it was pissing down. They tried to tell me it was house wiring. They were reading from a script, and would not entertain anything outside of that. I kept telling them it's a Telstra issue, that it's fine in good weather .Fast forward 3 weeks to where I was talking to a tech who seemed more knowlegable, yet told me not to worry about inconsistent RTT times pinging their LNS. Fast forward another week when their customer experience rep emailed me and said "yes, there is an issue in our wholesaler's network", to which I replied "Suprise suprise, I told you that 5 weeks ago. You're so incompetant that I'm moving ISPs...Cya".

        To be honest your best bet there would have been to call Telstra if that's where you thought the fault was. I had a similar issue with the internet a few years back whenever it rained. Rang Telstra and said my home phone was playing up. They send a techie out pretty quickly because it's phone not internet and the problem gets fixed... not properly fixed, but at least stopgap fixed.

        Thankfully, I'm now on NBN and don't have any of the same problems.

        And on topic - I too am not happy with a TPG buyout, I know a couple friends who have had no end of problems with TPG :(

    "iiNet is the only ISP in the case, with other Aussie ISPs happily handing over the data on their customers."

    This comment, referring to the Dallas Buyers Club case before the federal court, is completely incorrect. Other ISPs including Dodo, Amnet, and Wideband Networks, feature in this case. In addition, ISPs not involved in the case (such as Telstra, Optus, TPG etc) did not 'happily hand over the data on their customers'. They all refused to provide the requested data - they just aren't a part of the court case as Dallas Buyers Club LLC did not include them in the application.

      DBC didn't take anyone to court. iiNet took DBC to court. so of course the other companies you mentioned aren't part of the case.

        Get your facts right Slick...

        DBC filed an application for discovery in the Federal Court for IInet and a host of other ISPs to hand over IP addresses. IInet have been the most vocal defendent and the application name has been shortened as DBC v IINet, but the others are involved.

        Refer here for details: http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5631/iinet-in-new-copyright-infringement-battle-over-cu.aspx

        OR - better yet - check out the application: https://jade.barnet.com.au/Jade.html#article=351585

    What a very sad Day more "Premium ISP's" such as iiNet and Internode, and it is all because of a very overpriced NBN Broadband Network which so many People here and on the Whirlpool site still support.

    This is just the beginning of the end for both iiNet and Internode unless the Federal Government intervenes on the issue of doing something about the current State of the NBN, it's costs and Telstra's Monopoly.

    I'm very seriously myself am considering fleeing from the NBN and getting out before it gets worse for most Aussie ISP's.

      If you are going to "flee from the NBN" you are really not going to have a lot of choice in the end are you?

      The real issue is the NBN is actually a great leveler in this debate and the bigger companies are building market share through acquisition before the NBN gets a wide rollout and levels the playing field.

        It is very likely Phillo, and I can guarantee you with the NBN in it's current State isn't a great Leveler for ISP's.

        Why do you Budget ISP's like Exetel refuse to pay $$$ for extra Bandwidth their Backhaul?? Simply put the NBN is a absolute farce and overpriced.

          So everyone have equal access to the bandwidth and fibre is not a great leveller? So it's better when Telstra own it all? What you are smoking?

      The NBN was supposed to remove Telstra's monopoly, even if Malcolm Turnbull is doing all he can to give it back.

      The current providers offer similar plans their to their own DSLAM ADSL (2+) plans, which are lower than their Telstra-port based and naked plans: and that was mostly for "25/5" instead of "up to 24/1" of DSL. So in general fibre NBN doesn't make it any more expensive than current options and provides better service.

    An interesting development indeed.

    As a potential "off net" customer, I was about to sign up to iiNet and pay more than I do to Telstra for the privilege.

    As a result of this announcement, I am seriously considering sitting back and waiting.

    Its just a pity that the ISP industry in this country is continually shrinking. I would be great to see more players, but the reality is, the money doesnt seem to be there to start one up.

    It's very concerning, because I am an off-net iiNet customer (regional area). I inquired about TPG here and they told me they don't supply my area and wouldn't let me sign up at all. So after iiNet is merged, I have no idea whether I'll have internet any longer or not.. I'm assuming so, but I haven't heard one way or the other.

      One of the benefits of merging is the merging of the areas they cover. It's not like TPG is just going to turn off all of iinet's customers.

    I think this is good.

    We were using iiNet for our business connection for years, and ran into problems when their highest quota plan was 310GB a month and after that were shaped. I asked iiNet on Whirlpool to please introduce a higher plan or the option of purchasing data packs. The idea was shouted down by the vocal iiFanbois and iiNet themselves said no higher plans were on the radar - and so we switched to unmetered TPG.

    Source: http://goo.gl/fuf543

    Some months later, iiNet did introduce a 1TB plan - but too little, too late. We're now on a 100Mbit symmetrical Fibre plan with TPG with 1:1 contention ratio and unlimited data. If they can do that - then why can't the other ISP's?

    TPG actually know what people need and deliver - without advertisements featuring Irish bearded charismatic men.

    To all the iiNet customers fearing a degradation in network service or capability - you've nothing to fear. The price point of TPG's products attract the customers with the crappiest PC's, crappiest routers and lowest IT acumen - which is why you hear the "horror" stories about TPG - a vocal minority with the very worst of equipment and no troubleshooting skills. It's not an indication of the provider, but the customers they attract,

    I've been using TPG at work for 5 years and had no issues. I've been using TPG at home (ADSL 2+) for years and had no issues.

    Last edited 13/03/15 7:26 pm

    To be honest, I think it's good. TPG will have iiNet's call centers--which means better support, and iiNet will continue to live on. Plus, TPG will have iiNet/Internode's premium-ness.

    And fetch TV is finally coming to TPG!

      I'm pretty sure it's going the other way.

    I have respect for all the companies involved. But as the article points out, TPGs values are very different from Internode/iiNet. I see this going one of two ways

    Either TPG learn form the successes the other companies had and everyone benefits or they don't and disenchanted iiNet/Internode customer go else where.

    As a long term Internode customer. I don't mind paying a little extra for the unique features this company provides.
    - Ability to change DSLAM speed profile including Annex M.
    - VoIP offering with Naked.
    - IPv6 static subnet for me to use and I do use it. You can pry this from my cold dead hands.

    When Internode merged with iiNet I wasn't to concerned as both a fairly innovative and similar. But TPG while still a good company is very much targeting a different demographic.

    Personally I find this rather horrifying. I was originally a TPG customer and am in one of the original rollout points for NBN fibre. I remember spending several days talking to TPG support about moving to an NBN plan since they weren't offering any and I had gotten the notice that the copper in my town would be removed in several months time.

    Their response? "What's the NBN?". After explaining it several times and even sending a scanned copy of the notice, I got that they didn't have any plans to do NBN and even if they did, it wouldn't be anywhere except in the city. I moved to iiNet several weeks later.

    As a company, their deals and costs have always been great. But their support has always been concerning to me. And when I'm talking to a major ISP who doesn't know about the freakin NBN several months after the rollout started then I don't know what to think about my future with them. Hopefully they don't just swallow iiNet or Internode completely.

      Let's not get all histrionic here.

      Random dimwitted TPG employee on the phone not being familiar with the NBN does not equate to TPG not being familiar with the NBN. Near the beginning of the rollout, very few ISPs had NBN plans (Telstra included, and you can't argue that they weren't aware of the NBN).

    >>
    TPG has form when it comes to policing piracy. For some time now it has sent customers notices informing them that they’ve been breaching the copyright of studios when downloading protected material
    >>

    This is true.

    >>
    which puts them at the diametric opposite end of the spectrum to iiNet’s views on piracy.
    >>

    This is nonsense. TPG do send you a breach notice, but they don't do anything else. They don't surrender your details to the complainant, they don't tell you to stop downloading copyrighted material, and they don't penalise you for doing so. All they do is pass on the notice and forget all about it.

    You can clock up dozens of these notices and TPG won't bat an eyelid. They don't give a toss, and they protect your identity in the event that you're caught pirating software or media. This puts them on the SAME SIDE as iiNet when it comes to the issue of piracy.

      Internode tech I talked to said these go straight into the bin. So TPG match up the IP addresses based on the timeframe with who was on when, then send these messages all out? What a waste of money/resources.

    I was a TPG customer for 2 years and it was the most agonising two years of my life. I spent an average of an hour a week on the phone with them trying to keep my ADSL2+ working. They managed their DSLAM provisioning by waiting to upgrade exchange ports only when the cost of handling the complaints exceeded the cost of upgrade. I tracked my average download speeds across the two years and you can see the intentional overloading of the DSLAM as the speeds go gradually down over time to nearly nothing then jumped up again when they'd updrade the DSLAM. The call centre people were just monkeys reading off a script. No matter what you rang about they always replied with the same response and offered no help of any consequence. The network people were bone-headed idiots who probably couldn't find a CAT6 cable in the top drawer.

    Ironically, Internode customer service and quality of network service over the same physical copper was the best of any company I've ever dealt with in any industry. Super-knowledgeable, friendly, competent, rarely ever had any sort of network issues and rarely had to ring them but when you did, the service was exceptional. TPG are the K-mart of ISPs and it will never be otherwise. A sad time for Australia to see this happening. I hope the ACCC will not allow it to happen.

    Last edited 16/03/15 1:58 am

    The thing I'm more worried about is now there will be less competition. Unless both companies are still going to operate as their own. But that remains to be seen.

    They will come in and sack the local staff and port their jobs to India.

      +1 archonnn

      That's what exactly they will do unless the Federal Government intervenes immediately on this issue, fix up the NBN's dire State and gets rid of this Telstra Monopoly holding most ISP's to ransom.

      All Aussie Customer Service Centres thru iiNet, Internode and Adam Interner will be made redundant and outsourced to TPG Call Centres - iiNet, Internode and Adam will be non-existant.

    Having been with iiNet for 7 years, I have made precisely two calls to them, one to get a faulty modem replaced under warranty (call was done and dusted in three minutes - didn't have to wait in the queue, they called me back), the other for a line issue that was sorted the next day, both were dealt with in an extremely professional manner.

    I will be paying very careful attention to this buyout, although the problem remains that if I decide to leave TPGnet, there wont be many options, Telstra - no bloody way, Optus - not available, who's left? Not many that I would trust

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