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you titled this blog "What does the digital economy encompass? What does it mean for Australians?"
Well without the functional separation of Telstra, and / or if Telstra get their hands on control of the NBN, there will be no "digital economy" to speak of in this country, because we will all be charged out of existence.
Telstra's track record speaks for itself. Telstra are still ripping off the ignorant by signing them up to ridiculous low cap plans with totally unreasonable excess charges. This is totally beyond what anyone could consider a fair approach. It is insidious and not in keeping with the culture of this country. Their salespeople are still encouraged to lie to consumers re pricing and make promises of non-existent plans to encourage churning back to Telstra.
No-one at Telstra (nor Telstra itself) ever gets in trouble with the relevant Fair Trading, nor the ACCC, nor the telco ombudsman, over these practices and yet any other business doing the same things would be run out of town.
Further, Telstra continue to hamper and outright block access to ISP's trying to roll out competitive services to business and domestic customers across the country.
When telecoms in this country was opened to competition, we saw Optus and others bring the costs to the community down. Unfortunately the profits were still too great and competition beyond signing up numbers has evaporated - that is, competition by way of cheaper pricing.
Telstra are by no means a quality ISP. It was never a core business and their dominance landed in their lap by virtue of being the incumbent monopoly telco (pseudo monopoly perhaps, but none the less, monopoly - or maybe we could just say 500kg gorilla). They only ever do just enough (and often not enough) while still charging excessive rates.
I know there are economies of scale to consider in Australia. But I am sure Telstra could halve both their monthly access fees and their data rates for ADSL, and more so for their mobile data, and still make a healthy profit. I say this because most ISPs admit that they could turn a profit charging half of what they do, if not for Telstra's predatory pricing.
If correct reduction to Telstra pricing truely occurred, I for one would then gladly pay another $5 per month to cover infrastructure to "the bush". Do the sums. I am sure it would more than work out.
I will close with a little anecdote. Back in the 1980's when optical fibre became a reality, Telstra ran their first optical fibre cable between Sydney and Melbourne, at a cost, if memory serves, of $45M. That was a lot of money back then, even for Telstra. The anecdote is that it paid for itself in six months.
I wonder what percentage of their 3G network has already been paid for, given the profits they make from the inflated mobile rates we pay?
Unfortunately Telstra has become an un-Australian company, coincidentally run by un-Australians.
We could, and should, be doing far be better in this country than we are for what is becoming (for some has become) an essential service.
You have received a mandate from the people. Please don't waste it.