Telstra or Telstra Corporation (often abbreviated as Telstra Corp), is an Australian telecommunications and media company, formerly state-owned. Telstra is the largest provider of both local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL and cable internet access in Australia. Telstra is based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Formerly Telecom Australia, the company was renamed in 1993 to Telstra. The company has traded domestically and internationally under the Telstra brand, even after privatisation in 2006.
Australian telecommunications services were originally controlled by the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG). On July 1, 1975, separate commissions were established by statute to replace the PMG. Responsibility for postal services was transferred to the Australian Postal Commission (Australia Post). The Australian Telecommunications Commission (ATC), trading as Telecom Australia, ran domestic telecommunication services.
In 1989 the ATC was reconstituted as the Australian Telecommunications Corporation.
In 1992 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, a separate government body established in 1946, was merged with the Australian Telecommunications Corporation into the short-lived Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (AOTC) which continued trading under the established identities of Telecom and OTC. The AOTC was renamed to Telstra Corporation Limited in 1993. The corporation then traded under the "Telstra" brand internationally and "Telecom Australia" domestically until uniform branding of "Telstra" was introduced throughout the entire organisation in 1995.
Telstra has faced competition since the early 1990s from Optus (Australia's 2nd largest communication company) and a host of other smaller providers. It retains ownership of the fixed-line telephone network, as well as one of two competing pay-TV and data cable networks. Other companies offering fixed-line services must therefore deal with Telstra except Optus, Transact and a few others who have installed their own infrastructure.
From 1998, Telstra used the slogan "Making life easier", however this slogan was dropped in 2000. The original Telstra logo introduced in 1993 symbolized a telephone receiver beneath the leg of the "T", however, coinciding with the launch of the Next G Network in late 2006, Telstra began to replace this with a modified logo where leg of the T is no longer implied.
Telstra is Australia's dominant and largest provider of Fixed Line services. These include home phone, business and other PSTN products. Due to Telstra owning the majority if not all of Australia's copper network, this has allowed them to become the dominant provider of these services.
Telstra outsources a significant portion of network installation and maintenance to private contractors and joint ventures, such as ABB Communications and STCJV (Siemens Thiess Communications Joint Venture).
Telstra also owns and maintains the majority of Australia's public telephones. In 2006, Telstra announced it would remove many of the phones citing unprofitability due to vandalism and the increasing take-up and use of mobile telephones.
Telstra Mobile is Australia's largest mobile telephone service providers, in terms of both subscriptions and coverage. Telstra operates Australia's largest GSM and 3G UMTS (branded as Next G) mobile telephony networks in Australia, as well as holding a 50% stake in the 3GIS Ltd 2100MHz UMTS network infrastructure, shared with Hutchison (Three). As of September 2007, Telstra had an estimated 9.3M mobile subscribers . Telstra Mobile services are available in post-paid and prepaid payment types, known as Telstra Pre-Paid Plus (formerly communic8).
Next G, Telstra's primary 3G UMTS mobile network, built between November 2005 and September 2006, launched in October 2006. The Next G network is the largest mobile network in Australia, providing coverage over 100 times greater than any other 3G provider in Australia and over three times larger than any 2G provider in Australia. The Next G Network is also the fastest cellular network in the world, delivering network download speeds of up to 14.4Mbit/s .
The Next G network was built to replace Telstra's CDMA network which operated from 1999 until April 28 2008. Telstra opted to use the 850 MHz band for Next G in preference to the more common 2100 MHz band as it can cover much greater geographic distances for a lower overall investment. This network was implemented under contract by Ericsson as part of a project internally dubbed "Jersey" and launched on 6 October 2006. HSPA technology was included in the network to provide Australia's first wide area wireless broadband network. The efficiency of the Next G network and its coverage has been challenged and scrutinised since its launch, causing Telstra to go back to areas with average coverage, particularly rural towns to improve its coverage footprint. On January 18 2008, Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communications declined the proposal for Telstra to switch off its CDMA network on January 28 2008, stating that whilst the Next G network provided coverage equal to or better than the CDMA network, the range of handsets available was not yet satisfactory.. The Minister gave approval to close the CDMA network on the 15th of April after April 28 2008 . Telstra closed the network nationally during the early morning hours of April 29 2008.
Telstra's GSM network was the first digital mobile network in Australia. It was launched in April 1993 on the 900MHz band. The GSM network has carried the majority of Telstra's mobile subscribers for the last 10 years and has seen numerous upgrades. 1800MHz capacity channels were added to the network in the late 1990s as well as GPRS packet data transmission capabilities. As part of the UMTS Next G deployment, the GSM network was also upgraded to a full EDGE data transmission capability in 2006 providing data transmission capabilities greater than 40kbit/s on its GSM network.
In 1981, Telstra (then Telecom Australia) was the first company to provide mobile telephony services in Australia. The first automated mobile service operated in the major capital cities on 500MHz using the '007' dialing prefix. This network only provided "car phone" capabilities to subscribers as portable handheld terminals were not practical at that time. The first cellular system in Australia offering portable handheld phones was launched by Telstra in 1987 using the AMPS analogue standard on the 800MHz band. This network at it's peak had over 1 million subscribers, but was mandated by the government to be closed down by the year 2000, partially due to privacy concerns which resulted from the AMPS technology, but also because of arrangements undertaken to secure sufficient interest in the GSM network licenses offered in 1992 to competitors. A license condition placed on Telstra to maintain an equivalent coverage footprint at the time resulted in Telstra deciding to deploy an IS-95 CDMA based network in its place.
Telstra has made a number of attempts to find a market for cellular data products. Early examples consisted of a WAP text based information service made available over GPRS on Telstra's GSM network, and later, a service called "Telstra MobileLoop" offering video streaming and other content available through its CDMA/1xRTT network. This offering was ultimately abandoned in favour of a GSM i-Mode offering. Telstra was one of the only regional providers to provide i-mode services (running on GSM/GPRS and 3G 2100 MHz WCDMA on one particular handset), licensed from NTT DoCoMo. Telstra ceased offering i-mode services as of December 10 2007 and allowed any i-mode customers to recontract with a new handset without incurring early termination charges. With the launch of the Next G network, Telstra now offers advanced value added services such as mobile TV (branded Foxtel), and other generic internet services (BigPond Mobile, formerly Telstra Active).
Today, Telstra claims to have found a market for its mobile data offerings, announcing in January 2008 that it has for the first time had mobile data revenue exceed that received from SMS.
Due to Telstra's position as Australia's incumbent telecommunications provider, Telstra Wholesale is the incumbent and dominant wholesaler of ADSL services to other Internet Service Providers. Telstra installed the first DSLAMs in exchanges prior to 2000, and began wholesaling access in late 2000. Telstra Wholesale has a comprehensive network of ADSL DSLAMs (the largest in Australia) and allows competitors access to each Telstra DSLAM at ADSL1 speeds.
Telstra owns and operates the largest cable internet network in Australia. Telstra Cable operates in selected cities of Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and the Gold Coast), providing downstream speeds of up to 30 Mbit/s in selected areas. Telstra provides internet services for personal and business clients, through its internet service provider (ISP), BigPond. BigPond provides internet products over various delivery methods, including:
At the end of the 2007 financial year, BigPond had over two million broadband subscribers. The existing customer base of Bigpond Wireless is currently being migrated over to the Next G network, which offers higher speeds and greater coverage.
On November 10 2006, Telstra made two major changes to their ADSL network. The first was an increase of wholesale ADSL speeds from 1.5 Mbit/s/256 kbit/s to 8Mbit/s/384kbit/s. Telstra also released an ADSL2+ broadband service offering download speeds of up to 24 Mbit/s from exchanges where competitors were already offering ADSL2+ services.
On February 6 2008, Telstra announced that it would activate high-speed ADSL2+ broadband in a further 900 telephone exchanges serving 2.4 million consumers across every state and territory in Australia. Telstra also claimed that it has received assurances from the Government that it would not be forced to wholesale these services to other providers, and that the move came "after the Government made clear it did not consider a compelling case had been made for regulating third-party access to the service – an assurance sought by Telstra for more than one year.
According to Alexa statistical analysis of Yellow Pages traffic, Yellow Pages online website traffic is dramatically down over the last year.
Telstra's Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) (commonly referred to as "Cable") network is one of the delivery systems used by the Australian Subscription Television provider Foxtel. Telstra owns 50% of Foxtel in a joint venture with News Corporation and Consolidated Media Holdings. Telstra also resell Foxtel's "Digital" to customers in Foxtel's service area (as "Foxtel from Telstra") and AUSTAR's "Digital" product to customers in AUSTAR's service area (as "AUSTAR from Telstra").
Telstra does not have an ownership interest in AUSTAR, but has rights to resell AUSTAR services. Telstra offers discounts for Telstra full-service fixed line customers, with internet, pay TV and/or mobile services with Telstra. Such discounts can include free installation and the first month of the best Foxtel package (all channels) for free
Sensis is Telstra's wholly owned advertising and directories arm. This subsidiary was originally known as Pacific Access (since 1991), before changing its name to Sensis in August 2002. Sensis publishes Australia's White Pages and Yellow Pages telephone directories, and in 2004 purchased the Trading Post, a classified advertising periodical. Sensis also manages several websites including:
Sensis is responsible for Telstra's telephone directory assistance call centres - including 1223 ("Telstra Directory Assistance"), 12456 ("Call Connect"), 1225 ("International Directories") and 1234 ("1234").
Telstra is advocating the development of a nationwide FTTN network which, in conjunction with VDSL2 technology, would enable up to 100 Mbit/s symmetric download and upload speeds to the home. Competitors, such as the G9, have proposed similar developments, with both Telstra and G9 making progress on various fronts including political and regulatory expectations and funding.
Telstra has indicated that it will not proceed with building the network until it receives regulatory certainty that it will not be forced to wholesale FTTN access to competitors at rates it believes are unfair.
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Telstra's employment policies have been the subject of some criticism. On ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) documentary program Four Corners, Telstra's COO Greg Winn was revealed to have stated "We run an absolute dictatorship and that’s what’s going to drive this transformation and deliver results... If you can’t get the people to go there and you try once and you try twice... then you just shoot ‘em and get them out of the way..."
Telstra has expanded into international markets.
Telstra has naming rights to the Telstra Dome in Melbourne and is the naming rights sponsor to the National Rugby League premiership. Telstra is also the principal sponsor of Swimming Australia. They also sponsored Minardi for the 2002 F1 season.