This Week's Biggest NBN And Telco News: Tasmania's Internet Cable Cut

Here's where we round up all the Aussie news around the 'net about the 'net, every week. Check in here for a quick primer on everything from piracy to privacy to data retention and the NBN.

Internet image via Shutterstock

This week:

One Of Tasmania's Major Undersea Internet Cables Will Be Cut For Over A Month

The major Basslink undersea power and communications cable that connects Tasmania to the Australian mainland will be cut until mid-March, while the company investigates and fixes a failure in its electricity transmission capacity. That’ll leave Tasmanians with severely reduced connectivity to the internet for nearly six weeks, although contingencies are in place.

Basslink doesn’t disclose the capacity of the 300km-long undersea cable, although it’s understood that several major ISPs including TPG, Internode and iiNet have ongoing deals to use the Basslink cable to service residential and commercial customers in Tasmania. According to Cablemap, the 640Gbps Basslink cable carries the vast majority of Tasmania’s internet access to the outside world; the two competing Telstra cables have only 2.5Gbps capacity each.

Hackers Attack The NSW Government Department Of Resources And Energy

The NSW Government Department of Resources and Energy has revealed that it was the target of a cyber attack in December 2015, during the time several major projects were being considered. This includes the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark coal mine, indirectly controlled by the Chinese government — which experts say is a possible source of the attack.

The attack was in the form of an increase in “virus/security activity attempting to impact systems at the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) office in Maitland”, according the the department, and steps were taken to increase security after the activity was detected. “We do not believe that the attacks penetrated our systems or any data was accessed at this time,” the statement reads.

Government Just Sold $543 Million Of Mobile Spectrum

The results of the Federal Government’s recent auction of a large chunk of the 1800MHz band of the Australian radiofrequency spectrum have been announced: Telstra and Optus each spent nearly $200 million on securing more bandwidth, while TPG and Vodafone also splashed out with multi-million dollar investments. The 2015 auction should see Australia’s 4G networks in regional areas get faster and cover wider areas.

As it stands, the vast majority of the 1800MHz block has now been sold in regional areas; only a few small portions remain. Telstra and Optus have secured the lion’s share, with Telstra’s contiguous frequency ranges being nearly unimpacted by competitors outside of Canberra, but Optus contending with both TPG and Vodafone especially in Tasmania. The current state of play sees Telstra holding 25MHz of contiguous 1800MHz spectrum in nine areas and 20MHz in two, while Optus has 25MHz in six and 20MHz in six.

Government Says It 'Needs To Keep Up With The Times' And Monitor Welfare Recipients' Social Media

Yesterday it was revealed that State and Federal Government agencies are monitoring the social media and eBay accounts of Centrelink recipients, and using that data to prosecute fraud claims against them.

In response, The Department of Human Services has told Gizmodo it is “serious about protecting the integrity of Australia’s welfare system and conducts extensive compliance activity,” and will “take action to ensure those who attempt to deceive the Department are caught and held to account.” “As technology changes, the Department’s fraud investigation methods need to keep up with the times,” said Department of Human Services General Manager, Hank Jongen. “We have an obligation to the taxpayer to use all avenues available to us when we are investigating fraud.”

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