The Gebesse Blog

Thoughts from the world of technology and business

Weekly Buzz – May 25, 2014

Nothing next week
Unless some big news breaks there will be no Weekly Buzz next week because the Gebesse monthly newsletter will be going out instead. As a large number of those who receive this email are also on the monthly list I don’t want to overload any inboxes.


Another week, another password scare
If you are an eBay user you might have heard that passwords for the site have been compromised. Emails advising of this are being sent out to all eBay customers, but as you can imagine it can take some time to send out 145 million emails. If you haven’t been notified yet, go to the site and change your password immediately. It caused some overload of the system so it might not still apply, but when I got my email I was forced to change my password before I could log in and the rush caused a delay of about an hour before I could even get to the password change page. If it’s still like that be patient, but I suspect that eBay are staging the warning emails to avoid too many people trying to access their site at the same time. Even a site with the traffic capacity of eBay can be brought down if a few tens of millions of people all try to access the same page at the same time.


NBN progress
Under its contract with the NBN, Telstra is required to disconnect customers 18 months after the NBN becomes available to them. The deadline was reached for several places across Australia on May 23, but the ACCC has allowed extensions of connections in certain circumstances. You can read the ACCC’s media release about this here.
http://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-clarifies-disconnection-arrangements-for-certain-telecommunications-customers

Also, the ACCC has approved a suggestion by Telstra that will make it easier to install the NBN fibre cable to some premises by using the current copper wires to pull the fibre through existing ducting. This will obviously result in some disruption to services for the relevant customers, but this will be minimised and done following consultation. The ACCC media release is at
http://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-approves-telstra%E2%80%99s-measures-to-help-migrate-consumers-to-the-nbn

The NBN Co’s web site is at http://www.nbnco.com.au, where you can find details of the rollout timetable and other information.


Vodafone slims down, this time it’s customers
The number of Vodafone mobile customers in Australia has fallen below 5 million for the first time since the merger of Vodafone and 3 in 2009. There must come a time when Vodafone finally decide that they have to either spend up big to improve both the reality and perception of their coverage or to get out of the market altogether. I currently use Vodafone for mobile broadband only (it was bundled with my Samsung tablet – I have a telephone number but it can’t be used to make or receive calls) and the monthly data allowance far exceeds anything now offered by any carrier (including Vodafone) for anything like the price. I have been allowed to continue with the data volume even though my original two-year plan has expired, so I hope they stay around for a long time.

Part of any business planning should be to consider how quickly and easily you can change telecommunication suppliers, be they mobile phone carriers, web site hosts, or anything else that can disappear at short notice.


Meanwhile, over at Telstra
Telstra have announced a plan to spend $100 million to create a national network of WiFi hotspots, just two years after they closed a similar operation. The new system will be based around Telstra broadband customers sharing some of their data allowance with others over WiFi connections. The whole thing sounds very complicated and will surely raise security fears in some home users. The underlying reasoning seems to be a need to remove traffic from the 3G/4G mobile phone network, which is becoming the preferred way for people to access the Internet. If your phone is always with you and always on, why would you need to keep connecting to WiFi? In my case I can find free WiFi in cafes, hotels, airports, McDonalds, Starbucks, and even Central railway station, and my mobile phone service supplier gives me free data access to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay, and Foursquare. I’m not sure Telstra’s new plan is anything I need.

In other news, Telstra have measured a speed of 450Mbps in a test of their NextG network, a speed which compares favourably with the 100Mbps maximum claimed today and the 20Mbps achieved in reality. The announcement talked about massive increases in possible traffic on 4G networks, which would seem to contradict the claims that a WiFi network is needed to address 4G network overload.

Note that both of these announcements have been seized upon by people who know nothing about how WiFi and 4G are shared among users to declare that there is no need for a fibre-based NBN.

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