TPG's Tasmania Customers Now Have Better Internet Speed, After Government Intervention

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.

Here's the relevant info from Ferguson's Facebook post on the resolution:

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.

Even with the situation apparently handled, this hasn't generated much goodwill for TPG, which has already raised eyebrows after making some other questionable decisions in the last six months.




    Isn't there an unused cable run along the gas pipeline from vic to tas?

      There was one alongside the power cable, which is the one being discussed here. But I don't know if there ever was one alongside the gas pipeline. Perhaps there is (for their internal use) but they never wanted to provide access commercially to third parties.

    I'm on iPrimus and there has been zero communication on official channels about arrangements, notices, service disruptions, allotted capacity, etc.

    That said, service (at least on 100/40 FTTP NBN) has been okay. Speeds do fluctuate wildly from 90+/20+ down to 20+/15+, but fortunately nothing like what customers have experienced on iinet, internode and tpg.

    This will end up being blamed on Telstra. It will be "why didn't Telstra let them use their connection earlier?"

    Nope the fault is squarely on TPG not buying enough bandwidth, we are on Internode, being slowed to lower than 1Mbps on a 100/40 plan was bad enough but the throttling and blocking of things like steam downloads and apparently p2p, etc.
    One announcement after they had cut the cable and then nothing until they were forced to react.

    So we now know what TPG's take over of Internode was going to result in and it wasn't good.

    Last edited 13/03/16 6:48 pm

    A couple of corrections/clarifications needed here.

    1. TPG did not say that Telstra terms were "uncommercial", Basslink did. It was Basslink Co, as the contracted provider of the lit fibre across Bass Strait on Basslink, who attempted to negotiate with Tel$tra weeks ago on diverting bandwidth to Telstra's Bass Strait 1/2 cables systems. Basslink did not uphold their end of the downstream contract they have with TPG/iiGroup as they considered the terms "umcommercial". So both Telstra and Basslink failed the Tas public here.

    2. Once this fell through; Basslink notified the downstream ISPs that the impacts were going to occur. Suggestions in the linked Mercury article this was a 'crisis' are plain wrong. This has been coming for months and they all know it. So at this point TPG purchased sufficient bandwidth for full coverage of the iiNet Tas Gov supply, and for TPGs own business/residential customers. ex-iiGroup companies servicing business and residential customers were provided with minimal coverage of the required bandwidth that TPG was well aware it needed. So TPG failed the Tas public here.

    So all around there's been bad behaviour. And none of this should've hit end users at all. There's commercial agreements in place across all the supply chain and none of the parties involved seemed to just bite the bullet, pay for the extra needed and fight it out with upstream parties as needed. Just like any other violation of service levels and agreements.

    It should've been worked through weeks before the cut and we'd all be off watching cat videos on YouTube instead of ranting on various forums across the internet (at dial-up speeds).

    Typical TPG.

    If IINET had not been purchased by TPG this would NEVER have happened.

    Telstra Wholesale have committed today to delivering extra bandwidth to iiNet and Internode
    To me, that's been very carefully crafted to make it sound like Telstra are in some way to blame for TPG's predicament. Sneaky. And gives away the ridiculous customer service attitude that runs through that organisation.

    Thank Christ for that. The Division won't update because the connection keeps timing out, and I can't even connect to the Bloodborne servers. YouTube only works on my tablet or PC, where I can manually set the quality to 360p or below.

    Still gettng dial up speeds atm. We are on NBN 100/40. Sucks ass

    So, does the ACCC *STILL* not see any problems with TPG buying iiNet? That will go down as one of the most anticompetitive decisions that ACCC has allowed.

    Remember, no one needs fast internet in 2013 2014 2015 2016

    Last edited 15/03/16 1:00 pm

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