It's been on the cards since Basslink, the power / data carrying cable that connects Tasmania to mainland Australia, was damaged in late December last year. Yet, TPG was happy to leave customers with degraded internet, potentially for months, until intervention from the Tasmanian government forced the ISP's hand.
Despite knowing for months that repairs would eventually need to be undertaken, it appears TPG failed to come to an arrangement with Telstra to secure additional bandwidth during the downtime. If the degradation was only going to be for a few hours, it'd be a little more understandable, but when customers realised the compromised service could last for three months — and perhaps longer — any sliver of sympathy for the telco quickly evaporated.
Both Internode and iiNet released customer advisories and while similar, the Internode one doesn't specify a resolution date, leaving it in the ever-unhelpful hands of "TBA". The iiNet statement however mentions the issue would be ending "in 3 months", which while more definitive, is still utterly terrible.
Initially, it seems iiNet / Internode owner TPG didn't really give a stuff that its Tasmanian customers would be relegated to dial-up like speeds, going by anecdotal reports on tech forum Whirlpool. It also looks like the company failed to explain just how bad the degradation would be, leaving customers dependent on fast internet in the lurch.
The cherry on this already oozing pile of poo? TPG had the opportunity to alleviate the bandwidth issues by paying for extra capacity from Telstra, which has its own infrastructure, separate to Basslink. However, according to a story by Matt Smith and David Beniuk in the Sunday Tasmanian, Telstra's deal was "uncommercial".
Which seems a bit, well, stupid, seeing as desperate customers churned to Telstra anyway when TPG failed to deliver.
After gnashing its teeth over the problem — and with some prodding from Tasmanian's IT minister Michael Ferguson — TPG finally wrangled additional capacity from Telstra. That's the good news — the bad news is customers won't see relief until Thursday.
Today, I have spoken to TPG senior management to put forward the concerns of Tasmanian customers. I have been assured that TPG are aware of the issues and will continue to expand their use of the ample Telstra capability.
As I stated some time ago, Telstra advised there was sufficient capacity to cater for all Tasmanian retail and wholesale customers on the two fibre bundles it owns and operates across Bass Strait.
As recently as today, Telstra has advised that this remains the case, and we note that other non-Telstra ISPs were prepared for the cutting of the Basslink cable, which was anticipated. In my discussions with Telstra Wholesale this morning, I also reminded them of the importance of constructively receiving requests for more capacity from TPG. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Tasmanian Government cannot dictate commercial terms to either party.
TPG has undertaken to review the situation with a view to purchasing additional capacity from Telstra to adequately service their Tasmanian customers.
I had previously met with TPG in early February where the impending Basslink fibre outage was discussed.
The iiNet and Internode advisories have since been updated:
Update 12/03/2016 6:40PM WST: Telstra Wholesale have committed today to delivering extra bandwidth to iiNet and Internode by Thursday this week - we will keep users updated on the progress of delivery and if there is any unforeseen delays / complications.