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Byron Shire
March 29, 2023

TELSTRA – The end of the line?

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I live in a valley that was ravaged by flood last year. Telegraph poles were swept out of the ground by landslides and many poles close to the creek were left leaning precariously and sprouting lichens, looking like a scene from a doomsday movie.

Most of my neighbours are passionately opposed to 5G and managed to stop a 5G tower being constructed near the entrance to our valley. That left us with a tenuous copper wire for all telecommunications, which got flooded in the deluge, went dead for six weeks and came back burbling and clicking when water got into the system.

We suffered very compromised telecommunications. We had a download speed of just 1.4MB per second, our TV was forever buffering and many downloads just wouldn’t happen.

I met our Telstra lineman who gets called in to manage repairs in our valley. He remembers the good old days of Telecom as a publicly-owned company when people had jobs for life and it felt good to be part of a vibrant organisation. Then, Telecom went private and renamed themselves Telstra.

The very name sends shivers down my spine. Millions of mum and dad investors lost a fortune when their Telstra share price plummeted. 

And don’t you just love those wasted days sitting on a phone listening to Telstra’s dreadful recorded music while waiting for an overwhelmed operator in south Asia to deal with impossible issues? The lineman said Telstra don’t bother maintaining anymore and only repair things when they break.

So we switched to Starlink. A little antenna the size of a breadboard sits on my roof facing the southern sky, where an endless stream of Elon Musk’s low-altitude satellites wizz by just 500 kilometres overhead. My download speed is ten times faster and the upload speed a hundred times faster.

It’s pure magic! Starlink are launching 44,000 satellites over the coming years from those ingenious Space-X rockets that re-land after deploying 84 satellites each, looking like a pearl necklace across the night sky. Such clever primates.

So I realised why Telstra are not bothering to maintain their poles and wires. They are seeing out the dying days of their business model. It won’t be long before other companies copy Space-X and Starlink and launch their own constellations of satellites. Telstra’s Sky Muster uses a very crowded satellite in geostationary orbit 35,000 kilometres away. But because of the distance, there is a problem called ‘latency’, which is an annoying delay in conversations, caused by the time it takes for a signal to travel so far out and back in from space. So the future is with these low-altitude satellite constellations. It’s going to get mighty crowded up there.

We homo sapiens may not burn for long – but by gosh we’re going to burn bright!

Michael Balson, Upper Wilsons Creek

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  1. Underground fibre optics are vastly faster than radio options and much more resilient than the old copper cables. As you get more satellites in LEO, the speed at which they mutually destroy each other goes up exponentially. Elon has increase the number of satellites by x 100. As others copy, the day they all turn to belt of sandblasting metallic dust trapping us on this planet becomes nigh. I know how to fix it, but it will cost, and guys like Elon won’t pay for it. As always, You will.

    • You happy to pay for underground fiber? Since it benefits ~50 people that would be quite expensive if you paid for it yourself. Of course, if the w*nkers who hate 5g because of something they read on an American vlog would STFU, you could have good, cheap internet like the rest of us.


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