Thousands of Tasmanian Internet users at the weekend woke to find their Internet connections had slowed to a crawl – and it seems that they are likely to stay that way at least until May.
Many claim they are getting access at not much better than the dial-up speeds of two decades ago. A number said their services were “virtually unusable” – though they were apparently usable enough for them to make such comments on Internet forums.
This follows Friday’s deliberate cutting of an undersea data cable, to enable emergency repairs on the adjacent Basslink electricity cable, which links Tasmania with Victoria. The power cable has been out of action since December, but until now the data cable had continued running.
Telstra has its own subsea cables connecting Tasmania, and following the cable cut, ISPs have been forced to pay Telstra for access to its services. Many have done so, but it seems the rush to take up capacity on the Telstra service quickly choked operations.
Particularly affected were TPG’s iiNet and Internode operations. That saw Tasmanian IT Minister Michael Ferguson get on the line – presumably a Telstra line – to TPG senior management in Sydney. He later said he had secured a commitment that TPG would “review” the situation, and seek to purchase more capacity from Telstra.
Digital Tasmania spokesman Andrew Connor said that TPG-owned brands including iiNet and Internode account for 30-40 percent of all Tasmanian Internet users. He speculated that some of the affected ISPs had been looking to “intermediaries . rather than buying directly from Telstra”.
Tom Godfrey, spokesman for consumer advocacy group Choice, said consumers should expect that the product they bought and signed up to is delivered.
“If the provider can’t deliver, consumers should be compensated and have the option of ending their contract without penalty,” he added.