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He's the man Australia blames for their crap Net access

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Ziggy Switkowski, ladies and gentlement

The head of incumbent telco Telstra has become a hate figure throughout the Australian Net community because in his wisdom he has decided that even those paying Au$90 (£30) for a DSL account will have a 3Gb per month cap on their usage.

This man is Ziggy Switkowski and he's not flavour of the month. He claims the cap is needed for reasons of cost, network stability and quality of service. Thousands of Internet users are not so convinced and are making their anger known.

Our cousins Down Under are having a hard time getting hold of decent Internet access, as we've reported once or twice before. ADSL in Australia is still in its early stages, and most access is still through crap dial-up accounts. In short, a mirror image of the situation in the UK.

Ziggy is interesting in that he has a PhD in nuclear physics, although many question whether this is the ideal qualification for the CEO of a telco. A puff piece in ZDNet India falls over itself to congratulate this visionary under whose leadership "Telstra has emerged as an undisputed behemoth in the communications and information service industry".

Also, apparently, "Switkowski vehemently believes that cultivating customer satisfaction is paramount in today’s highly competitive environment. With the deregulation of telecommunication companies, customers are offered boundless choice and they demand no less than first-class communications products and services."

Unfortunately, a recent poll by ACNeilson showed that his cultivation of customer satisfaction is not very effective since 54 percent of Telstra customers said they were dissatisfied with the service.

In a classic Internet move, the site www.telstraexposed.com has appeared and it has a somewhat less glorious view of Ziggy. "Ziggy's own track record suggests that he was not the obvious, nor even the ideal choice for the job as CEO of Telstra. His experience in the telecommunications industry has been brief and less than spectacular. He left Optus abruptly after a stint as its CEO. Before that, he ran Kodak's Australian operation, one that survived only by government handouts.

"Since his unexpected appointment at Telstra, there have been reports that it owed much to political and personal connections," it says, before running a poll over whether Ziggy is suited to the job. Ninety-nine per cent of people voted No.

And again, in traditional Internet style, he has become a figure of mockery. Check out these doctored movie posters berating the 3Gb cap. Or you can buy a baseball hat inscribed: "I signed with Telstra for unlimited Internet but all I got was this lousy 3Gb cap".

But of course with anything Internet-based Down Under, our old friend and the greatest luddite in the world Senator Alston - the minister for Communications, Information Technology and The Arts for the Australian government - has to be involved.

What makes it worse is that he is in charge of the 51 per cent stake that the Aussie government has in Telstra. His criticism has been so sorely lacking that when asked about ADSL roll-out, his reply that it "was not handled as well as it could have been" produced the headline "Alston unimpressed with Telstra’s DSL response". Despite the fact that he then went on to excuse Telstra's behaviour.

And then there are the claims that an official report criticising Telstra was watered down, on Alston's insistence.

It's frustrating to see more of the modern disease in which those in charge hold back advancement rather than foresee it and make the most out of it. ®

Related Links

Gallery of Ziggy pics
Puff piece on Ziggy
Telstra Exposed.com unimpressed with Ziggy
Alston says small bad thing against Telstra
Alston accused of watering down report critical of Telstra

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Australia to make online gambling illegal
Heads Oz wins; tails you lose

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