back to article Telstra copper at crisis point, endangers NBN, says union

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) has called out Telstra's copper network, saying that this year's bad weather has left 20,000 lines out of service in NSW alone. The number could be higher, if you believe reports from News Ltd that the number is over 41,000. 2015 hasn't been kind to Telstra, with …

  1. aberglas

    Secrecy breeds incompetence

    The total secrecy surrounding the NBN is not good for anyone except the bureaucrats. Telstra should have some good fault data available, and the NBN and the public should both have access to it. Obviously some lines are good, some are a disaster. Some of the gel joints have been fixed many have not. But what is needed to make sense of any of this is real numbers, not hearsay and speculation.

    The NBN thinks that it is be clever by being secretive. But in fact it is probably just hiding bad decisions that will bite us later. By "us" I do not mean the NBN executives who will have moved on by then. So perhaps being secretive is a good policy.

    1. Medixstiff

      Re: Secrecy breeds incompetence

      "Telstra should have some good fault data available,"

      This is the kicker, Telstra's fault numbers they report each year are for voice services, not data services.

      Hence why if your line is crackling and your ADSL cuts out but you can hear and talk to people on the phone, you have a working service.

      This was pointed out at the beginning of the NBN, when FTTP was still the plan but as Turncoat brought in mostly ex-Telstra cronies, all the truth started to disappear from NBN Co. reporting, if you managed to get anything out of them at all and the slide into mediocrity began.

      1. aberglas

        Re: Secrecy breeds incompetence

        So, if Telstra's lines are all bad then why did Labor pay them billions to cut the copper? Because most people in the initial roll out areas were satisfied with their copper and would not voluntarily switch to fibre, that is why. Fibre was a big waste of tax payer's money that people could not be bothered to use even when it was free to them.

        The truth is that a lot of the network is sick, but most of it is serviceable. It would be good to have some real numbers.

        There is no excuse for anyone with a phone not to have passable 2 megabit ADSL though. That is a failure of both Labor and the Liberals. Basic ADSL needs to be covered by the universal service obligation that already covers phones. Now that would be worth the tax payer paying a bit for, as opposed to all the current waste by both parties.

        But all those ratbags screaming "I only get 10 megabits and want more and more" drowns out the real issue. Especially when most journalists don't know the difference between a megabit and a melon.

  2. Fluffy Bunny

    All Telstra's fault

    Telstra stopped maintaining it's copper network when it signed up to replace everything with shiny new fibre. Now, it seems to be overwhelmed by the problem it created.

    Next step will be for us taxpayers to fund the repairs to the copper network.

    1. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: All Telstra's fault

      Upvoted - but Telstra stopped maintaining it's copper network well before that. They'd pretty much given up on it long before I left ~10 years ago, and were doing only absolutely essential maintenance e.g. repairing/replacing sections when there were no working spare pairs & they'd run out of even broken pairs to rig.

      I was saying way back then that their plan was obviously to let it rot then find some way of getting paid to fix it. Looks to me like they've managed to do that quite nicely, and even get paid twice for it...

      1. Wombling_Free

        Re: All Telstra's fault

        "to let it rot then find some way of getting paid to fix it. Looks to me like they've managed to do that quite nicely, and even get paid twice for it..."

        should read

        "to let it rot then find some way of getting paid. Looks to me like they've...."

    2. DesktopGuy

      Re: All Telstra's fault

      Have to agree.

      As someone who sets up companies and their infrastructure for a living, the last 3-4 years have been horrendous. I'm switching clients from ADSL to EFM and fibre or even residential cable to get them reliable connections. The cost of way too high, but reliability trumps price for alot of my clients.

  3. BlackKnight(markb)

    ok so there networks just shy of 70 years old, not a 100...... fair point welcome to australias ultra advanced 70 year old network that flaks out with a bit of weather.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Joe Hockey is to the Budget

    Malcolm Turnbull is to the "NBN"

  5. Brictoria

    How did this happen?

    The union's NSW/ACT Assistant Secretary Shane Murphy says “There are thousands of plastic bags holding cable joints together and thousands of cables laying bare with wires exposed in pits and manholes across the country”.

    Wasn't it union members who left it in that condition rather than doing their job correctly?

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: How did this happen?

      Telstra has been outsourcing pit and pipe work for a very long time to companies like Transfield and Silcar. Each in turn bid low to get the contract and each then struggled to find subcontractors who would work for the rates they offered at the speed they required and at a quality that was good enough to avoid incurring penalties from Telstra. I understand that Telstra is now bringing some of it back in house as NBN has changed contractors to competitors.

    2. Tim Roberts 1

      Re: How did this happen?

      You clearly do not know that union membership is not compulsory here in oz - in fact I cannot pay fortnightly from my pay to be a union member because of conservative policies of several years ago - but that is another story. What evidence do you have that only union members use plastic bags to cover the joints? ..... thought not ...... actually it would more likely be their employers who told them to cut as many corners as possible - union members or not - and provided the bags to do so. If the "baggers" are independent contractors then I'm sure they are intelligent enough to work out how to cut costs, union membership or not.

  6. Urh

    This is no surprise...

    If I recall correctly, the Senate was warned that the copper network was at "5 minutes to midnight" waaaay back in 2003. It sounds to me that we are now seconds from midnight.

    Can we all just admit that we need to rip this crap out of the ground now?

  7. Wombling_Free


    Well, some of the faults were self-inflicted: twice in 2014 Telstra crews cleaned out our local junction pit with a 75mm firehose - directly connected to the mains hydrant in our street. A water jet strong enough to knock you over being directed into the patch frame. Stay classy, Telstra.

    Oh, and when I lived in a flat in Kirribilli that dated to the 1890's we had bloody awful wiring, both electrical and phone. A Telstra tech came round to address our complaints of no phone, and when we did have a phone we seemed to share the line with most of our neighbours. I watched as he stripped down the patch frame (which was more oxide than frame - it crumbled in his hands) and exposed the wiring beneath - which was copper RODS - not wires. Wrapped in what was apparently horse-hair & tar. Which, he told me, was quite common in the area.

    Austfailia; you're standing in it.

  8. Mr P

    Every time I see articles like this, or about the nbn not giving the right multigigabit download speed I wonder what magical place people are from that these are problems.....

    What about places where "internet of trees" is normal? Except for the the internet bit due to distance from the exchange. Not that it matters as the electric fence beside the exchange inserts a constant tic tic tic into phone calls....and the phone dies for weeks after the creeks come up.

    Mobiles for backup only barely work with fixed directional antennas, and satellite.....once the feedhorn gets a dose of lightning it takes months to get someone out for repair.

    Hard to take a lot of this amazing digital fibre future stuff seriously when people still wait for reliable phone and basic web services.......

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