Mon, 10 Mar 1997 12:14:04 +1000
The Federal Government is between a rock and a hard place in relation to
Telstra. It wants to sell off bits of Telstra, and therefore it wants
Telstra to remain as profitable as possible. There are some people in the
Government - and I think Senator Alston is one of them - who recognise that
the Internet is a great 'enabler' for _all_ industry, which will make
Australian industry more competitive on the world stage, and therefore any
increases in costs for its use would be counter-productive. It was a
therefore a significant victory for Australia to have the Government confirm
last week that it would not introduce timed calls for Data.
I'd like to take this a step further. With the advent of fibre, the cost of
communications has plummeted significantly. Sure, there are high costs
associated with the local loop (to subscribers) and the like. However the
cost of fibre is trivial - almost free - compared with copper. The initial
reason for charging for calls by time was for Telstra (nee Telecom
Australia, nee PMG) to try to recoup the huge cost of the copper
infrastructure that had been installed in the ground.
I wonder what justification there is for maintaining timed calls at all? I
would appreciate answers from knowledgeable linkers to the following questions:
1. Are all major regional centres - ie centres that have exchanges -
connected by fibre? If not, when will they be?
2. What happens to the copper still in the ground? Is it discarded - ie
written off - or is it used as a standby?
If it is the case that all regional centres are connected by fibre, and it
is also the case that the copper has been discarded, then Telstra has no
justification whatsoever for maintaining timed calls for terrestrial connection.
If we can prove amongst ourselves that there is no real justification for
timed calls, then perhaps the esteemed journalists who lurk on this list -
Charles Wright, David Crowe, John Hilvert, Peter Young et al - could mount a
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