No internet during Lockdown

Telstra’a nonhuman voice messaging software would text {dramatically}: “I am sorry for the trouble, I completely understand how you feel, if I would be at your position, I also have felt the same … please don’t worry.”

The private telco model is being challenged by Covid. Not to say Telstra isn’t truly hopeless. Both Keating and Howard governments privatised Telecom back in the 1990s. At that time it was making $2 billion surplus every year and yet they sold it for $4 billion outright. This financial strategy was called economic rationalism. Its protagonists argued that the public sector should not carry debt.

Hawke and Keating had already corporatised Telecom during the 1980s leading up to its full privatisation by the Howard government in 1996. The shareholders and profiteers made all the money and Australia was left with a telecommunications system exposed to rip-off merchants. Along came whizzkid liberal Malcolm Turnbull who said that he would implement an NBN Australians could afford.

Yes, Turnbull’s predecessors, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard had destroyed Telstra’s capacity to build a good fast reliable internet by making all the telco’s technicians redundant. Then our troubles really started. They brought in contractors. Small business operators were build the new cable network, they reckoned.

It is not Telstra workers fault, be they here, India or elsewhere. The workers are clearly overstretched. It is partly because of the company’s reliance upon non-humans or, worse still, humans reading and messaging from a script. Evidence for this lies in the misinformation that they provide. For example the messaging system told us that we didn’t have an outage in our area and that we used only one gigabyte (1GB) of our broadband allocation when, to the contrary, our bill said we have used 83 GBs. Every now and then during lockdown the non-humans would throw us a bone, a $20 credit here, an extra 10GByte there.


Australia now has a second rate NBN system introduced by successive liberal and labor party governments.

This comes as no surprise to our readers. I wonder how many people are experiencing the same frustration during a time of Covid stress as we are in lockdown. For four days we have messaged, ‘chatted’ and performed self help tasks ordered by these computers and their human interface. We asked Telstra ‘experts’ to fix our Internet but nothing happened. We asked if they would send a technician. Same.

For most of that time, we were not texting with a human. And when we were, it was all script like this:

The computer or messaging software that Telstra employs told us: “please don’t worry I will definitely help you … I’m going to get this sorted out for you … I need a little bit of time to do this but no need to worry as I’ll be back after 15 minutes”.

Finally Telstra would say that they have added free 10 GB data to our mobile phone account. But at the same time they reduced our speed claiming falsely we had gone over our limit.

When we did get an ‘expert‘ it was hard not to get short with them because they would simply ask the same questions they had asked for the last four days. When those tests failed as shown on the modem pictured below.

I know this sounds like a whinge but I worked at Telecom in the early 80s when it was a Commonwealth owned public utility. Sure we had complaints about STD calls costing too much; but that money was used to provide services in the bush. When people complained, it was human at the other end of the telephone call. And, most importantly, when something went wrong, a telecom technician came and fixed the problem without charging householders anything.

So how has the privatised model improved Telecom/Telstra?

Don’t tell me Optus is an alternative.

We still do not have the Internet, only my overstretched mobile phone (which I used to make this post) and so we are returning to reading books during lockdown.

Ian Curr
8 Aug 2021

One thought on “No internet during Lockdown

  1. Sting in the tail says:

    After five days without Internet access is now restored. Many hours of online messaging and troubleshooting on our part.

    This sting in the tail is that Telstra wants to charge us $288 for a Wi-Fi booster. This is because our speeds are so slow. 17Mbps upload speed and 4Mbps download speed.

    We will have to do some more research to resolved the problem.

    Comment down below what you think.

Please comment down below