So let’s just start our own telco, eh?

While my piece about iPhone data plans brings you the disturbing imagery of Telstra’s Sol Trijillo bending over for Steve Jobs, Mark Pesce’s iPhail is blunt about telcos’ data plans and offers another possibility — creating our own data-friendly telco.

Mark reckons all three carriers offering iPhone have completely failed to recognise the pent-up demand for the device, and the way it will change network usage.

A typical example is Optus’ plan (general consensus holds that Optus has the most generous plans of the three carriers), which provides a maximum of 1GB of internet usage per month — for a hefty $179.

Let’s run some numbers here. The front page of the Sydney Morning Herald clocks in at just about a half a megabyte. That’s fat, but also fairly typical. The widespread deployment of broadband has lead to a proliferation of media-rich pages. Now, if I hit the SMH page (or a similar site) sixty times a day, I’d reach my 1GB cap. Add in any Google Maps activity, or push email, or what have you, and the figure could easily double. Now, instead of $179/month, I’d have that bill plus potentially hundreds of dollars in data charges.

On the other hand, if I wanted to buy 3G mobile data service for my MacBook Pro from Optus, they’d give me a cute little USB dongle with the Hauwei 3G/HSDPA modem and SIM card, plus 5GB of data — and it would cost me only $39.99 a month.

Have I missed something here? After all, data is data. The network usage for the dongle is completely indistinguishable, as far as the network is concerned, from the iPhone 3G.

Mark’s conclusion is that there’s an “iPhone tax”.

Not only are we asked to pay a premium to purchase iPhone 3G, we will also be paying a premium to receive every bit of data on iPhone 3G.

The solution, he says, is to start our own MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator.

Continue reading “So let’s just start our own telco, eh?”

Aussie telcos bend over for the iPhone

Photo of iPhoneAustralia’s mobile phone carriers may not completely grok Apple’s new iPhone 3G, but they know it’ll bring them customers — because they’re all scrambling to be Steve Jobs’ iPhone bitches. It’s an embarrassing spectacle.

Three carriers have announced packages available from tomorrow: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. (Presumably 3, who’ve been asking their customers to beg for iPhones, haven’t bent over far enough.) There’s a comparison over at

According to my sources, all three Aussie telcos have bent over even further than US carrier AT&T. Apple already demands a bigger subsidy from carriers than other smartphone manufacturers. In the US, for example, AT&T pays Apple US$325 per unit compared with the usual $200 or so. However two individuals working within Telstra confirm that all three telcos offering iPhone here are also paying Apple an ongoing percentage of revenue. AT&T has escaped that revenue-sharing deal, but not the Aussies — and that’s presumably reflected in the somewhat disappointing plans on offer.

All three Australian carriers have missed the key point. Yes, iPhone can make phone calls. But its true role is a pocket-sized internet-connected computer.

Continue reading “Aussie telcos bend over for the iPhone”

Links for 05 July 2008 through 08 July 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 05 July 2008 through 08 July 2008, gathered with string and glue:

  • The State of the Web – Summer 2008: A million people mentioned this fine commentary on the current state of the web. Nice work.
  • Future of Media Summit 2008 | Future Exploration Network: The third annual Future of Media Summit will be held simultaneously in Silicon Valley on 14 July and Sydney on 15 July. Why was I not told about this? OK, time to scam…
  • TuneRanger | Acertant: A tool to synchronise, copy or merge multiple iTunes libraries and iPods over the network. Available for both OS X and Windows. US$29, with 30-day free trial.
  • Mercury Messenger: Client software for MSN Messenger written in Java and runnable on OS X, Windows and Linux. Allows you to use the Mac's built-in iSight camera for video chats, unlike Microsoft's own software.
  • Scrivener | Literature and Latte: Word processors are for processing words. Like processed cheese. If you CREATE words, then you need a writing tool. Scrivener is just that, for OS X only.
  • iPhone in Australia – now for the bad news | Web Directions: A comprehensive analysis of the available data plans to support iPhone in Australia. Recommends NOT getting an iPhone yet to force carriers to lift their game.

Investigating broadband takes 11 years!

Yesterday the federal government announced that it’ll give Optus $1 billion to provide wireless broadband to the bush. Good on ’em. Sorting out broadband Internet access was an election promise back in 1995, so it’s only taken 11+ years!

Just think about that. In 1995, a cutting-edge PC was an Intel 486 DX66 with 64MB of RAM and a 2x CD drive. The year’s big software release was Windows 95 — the very first version of Windows with Internet connectivity built-in.

Senator Coonan rejects the claim that the Government has been left behind. “You can’t really say that,” she says, “when you look at the Government’s record in rolling out broadband.”

Can’t you, Senator?

So how come back in 1995, Australia was third in the world in terms of Internet bandwidth and computing power per head of population, while today after a decade of Howard at the helm we don’t even make the top 10?

[Update 22 June 2007: I’m amazed no-one picked up the most obvious mistake in this post. The Optus/Elders plan may be costed at $2 billion but only half of that comes from the taxpayers. I’ve edited the post to fix the mistake.]

Optus vs Telstra: positive vs negative

There’ll be free wireless Internet access throughout the Sydney CBD by early 2008, says the NSW government — and the reactions from leading telcos Optus and Telstra were chalk and cheese.

Optus: “Optus congratulates the NSW Government on its innovative plans… Optus looks forward to seeing more details of the plans and to participating in the expression of interest process.”

Telstra: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch anymore so it will be interesting to see how it is proposed to be paid for.”

I don’t understand why it’ll take so long to set up a few Wi-Fi access points though.