back to article Australians love mobile devices, but not mobile downloads

The next time you queue up to buy an iPad, 3G wireless broadband dongle, or an Android phone or tablet, ask yourself: why are the data plans so expensive, when they deliver so little? The latest broadband study from the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that servicing the data needs of mobile broadband users requires …


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  1. dpadams

    ADSL uptake is slow because there are no ports

    As always, thanks for the fact-based coverage of network issues here in Aus.

    Regarding "mobile broadband accounted for 90 percent of new connections added in Australia between June 2011 and December 2011"

    Hardly a surprise when in so many areas it is impossible to buy an ADSL connection. There has been a chronic scarcity of ADSL ports throughout Australia for years. In my area, your only chance of getting ADSL is to wait for someone to move or die. Telstra is now rolling out "top hats" to add more ports to existing RIMs but the program is moving slowly and will only cover a fraction of the areas that lack ports.

    So, it's not too impressive that wireless broadband uptake has been so high when the alternative is dialup, not ADSL.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There are enough hotspots and broadband users without password protection that it makes WiFi the ideal medium.

      Mind you if everyone in the UK had very cheap 3G the system would collapse, the infastructure would not cope, so the cost regulates the useage.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: 3g

        Yeah, you'd need some kind of network to service the wireless hotspots. It would have to be broadband. And national.

        ...oh right.

    2. Graham Wilson

      @dpadams -- Re: ADSL uptake slow no ports -- And it's a Double Whammy Too.

      Not only is there a shortage of ADSL ports but wireless is outrageously expensive in Australia.

      With few ports available one is forced onto outrageously expensive wireless. The location I'm at now uses Telstra ADSL with only a meager download limit of 50GB per month at $70 per month [$69.95]. Moreover, this Telstra account is one of the more expensive, as the same limit can be had from other suppliers for less than half the cost.

      If say I were to use Vodafone's prepaid wireless 12GB/month--one of the better deals--then it'll cost $150 (Telstra being much more expensive for wireless).

      Here's a summary:

      - Telsta ADSL, speed here ~13,500 kbps, download lim./cost: 50GB @ $70 per month

      - P'paid Vodafone wireless, practical speed ~250--350 kbps, 12GB @ $150

      Thus, Vodafone wireless is nearly an order of magnitude more expensive for only 1/4 the download speed. Furthermore, these figures are ones I've immediately to hand; in practice, much wider price gaps for ADSL/wireless exist.

      Right, the situation is outrageous. And who's to blame? Right again, Australian governments, past and present. Governments failed to properly deregulate telecoms because money-grab politics:

      - They privatized Telstra together with all the network lines/cableways so there was no effective competition as other carriers had to pay Telstra--their competition--through the nose for access to cableways.

      - They did nothing about this obvious fuck-up for years.

      - When they did it was with the controversial National Broadband Network. While the NBN concept is a great idea, this replacement for the sold-off cableways will cost the Australian people many billions more than if the original cableways had been kept in government hands.

      - The management of the NBN too has been a first-class fuck-up. It's the laughing stock of the telecoms world. It's rumored that Telstra is waiting for the NBN fire-sale then we'll all be back to square one again. (This is more than a rumor--Telstra has already done a deal over the NBN with the government and Telstra is poised to strike with a 'better' offer when the next fuck-up occurs or when the government changes hands, which is a certainty in the near future. Remember, you read it here first!)

      There's much more I could go on about but I've already covered it many times before in earlier El Reg posts.

      Fact is wireless is damn expensive in Australia because of successive incompetent, disingenuous and deceitful governments have fucked-up telecoms time and time again.

      Incompetence in radio communications, broadcasting policy and developing telecommunications infrastructure is a national Australian pastime, no one else comes close. A parade of fuck-up go back to the late 1800s and the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905. If Nobel had awarded a prize for incompetence in communications then the Australian Government would have won hands down every time.

      Trouble is the myopic Australian public is too obsessed with trivia to even see the bloody obvious. Why Australia has been screwed rotten over ALL telecom fees--not just wireless--requires a level of understanding, cognition and hindsight that's beyond the comprehension of present-day Australian culture.

  2. wathend

    3G is not an alternative

    Of course if you have ever tried downloading large files on 3G then you may not understand. The reason for the data on fixed internet is that it is simply faster. Even NextG does not compare even though they quote assounding upload and download it doesn't match. Once LTE at 700MHz is widely available this will change but for now mobile data will be restrained by its inherent ties back to voice and other communications.

    1. sam bo

      Re: 3G is not an alternative

      4G modems on Telstra acheive downloads 40 to 60 mbps - cost is the major reason people dont download on mobile.

      1. borkbork

        Re: 3G/4G is not an alternative

        How well will 4G work once 6 million users make the transition to devices that support it?

        Sure it's fast now, but there's barely anyone on it.

  3. SD2


    I have witnessed and benchmarked the Telstra HSPA+ network at up to 150Kbps for the uplink (per connection), which is a fair bit better than the ADSL 2+ network. Unfortunately Annex M does not work for us as we are too far from the exchange. Of course this is subject to time of day, weather conditions etc... and it fluctuates greatly during a 24 hour period.

  4. Rex di Bona

    Ah Mobile Broadband. How expensive can signals in the air be? In Australia, bloody expensive it turns out. Anybody who has gone beyond their included data allowance soon realises that using mobile broadband can be a VERY expensive proposition.

    Also, why a dongle/SIM per device. I'm waiting for a carrier to provide a legitimate Android hot-spot phone, then I'll think about, rather than a separate data plan per device. Until then it'll be the portable 3G wifi device thank you very much.

    Current pricing plans are a fail for the public.

    1. Jon B

      Just about every Android phone..

      ..since version 2.2 can be a wi-fi hotspot, and there's no carrier restrictions on tethering in Australia too (I believe). There isn't in NZ anyways, where both fixed line and mobile broadband is EVEN MORE expensive

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    3G for calls, home wifi for data.

    "They’re just too smart to pay over-the-odds for the data we download, when the home and the office have WiFi available."


    3G for data?

    Perish the thought.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ever tried setting up Internet Connection Sharing using the Telstra-provided application that ships with their ZTE-based phones? It creates the dial-up link the moment you click connect, and deletes it after. So it's impossible to go in and actually enable Internet Connection Sharing (NAT) like you can for almost any other link.

    There are solutions to this:

    - Buy a device that can act as a hotspot such as a Android or iOS phone, or a 3G router

    - Configure the Internet link yourself without using the provided software, that allows you to configure these options

    I sort of do the latter; I run another OS (Linux) and of course, that gives me full control. However, for your average punter, this may be beyond them.

    I myself have a 3G Internet link with a 1GB/month quota, and a 512/128kbps ADSL service at home with a 10GB/month quota. There is also another 3G service in the household with a 10GB quota. The reason for the 2:1 ratio? We use our 3G links when we are _away_ from home and have no other option. I personally do the bulk of my downloading on the ADSL link.

    Despite it being slower, I'd sooner just wait a bit longer than get slugged $25/100MB the moment I hit 1GB. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard.

  7. ChrisInAStrangeLand
    Thumb Down

    Australians love mobile downloads. What they do not love is punitive $5,000 per GB overage charges over their meager carrier allotments. That's still a factor of 1,000 better than it used to be before the iPhone was launched.

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