Level 1: Cadet

Slow ADSL speeds?

We are not cable here in New England NSW and are still running off copper, but I can tell you we are experiencing very similar problems reported here.


The funny thing is, it wasn't happening up until about 2 weeks ago. Congestion? LMFAO and I would bet Telstra's CEO's annual income that most of you here are NOT experiencing congestion problems.


For our problem to be congestion we would have to have suddenly had a massive increase in population to our tiny town of about 7000, which has not happened.


So, two weeks ago we were getting brilliant copper fed speeds of up to 18 Mbps! And that was for at least the last 3 years. A couple of minor set backs here and there during that time, fixed reasonably quickly with a phone call or a field tech visit. Pretty happy with the service... up until now!


See, I wasn't aware just how much Telstra had changed for the worse in the past 2 years, but more of that in a moment. I digress.


As I was saying, brilliant speeds till 2 weeks ago then out of the unknown blue BAM! super low speeds, as low as 0.9 Mbps. I made a call, got the Philippines, was asked to restart my modem which I had already attempted but decided to oblige the lady anyway, to no avail, of course. Our case was then immediately elevated to "level 2", lol and I was redirected to yet another Filipino Tech Support operator, understandably considering it was outside of Australian business hours and God forbid we give after hour jobs to our fellow Aussies, right?


Anyway, the outcome with the level 2 operator was very similar to the first with 2 exceptions; a line test (which indicated no problems whatsoever, in fact as far as the Philippines were concerned we were getting incoming speeds of up to 20 Mbps) and a remotely performed restart of our service, to no avail, of course. The solution? Send us out a new modem.


It arrived a couple of days later and I was quite impressed with the speedy delivery. Hooked it up and... nothing. Same problems. Back to 133933. Same again, level 1 and 2 Tech Support give me the usual spiel.


I was then told that I had 2 options - be patched through to Telstra Platinum (note that for later reference) OR have a field tech come and check it out. Well, no doubt I chose the field Tech under my own explicit terms that I was not to be charged for the costs involved. A visit was scheduled in 3 days time. *tap tap tap* *tick tock tick tock*. Something one of the operators had said compelled me to start a speed test log that night, the first entry being recorded before I hit the sack, a miserable 1.95 Mbps.


Amazingly, when I turned on my PC the next morning and ran a speed test I was getting near 17 Mbps speeds! Woot, it's fixed!!!, I assumed. However, my triumphant cries of joy were premature. Over the course of the rest of that day I watched as the speed gradually turned to mush... a saddening 1.69 Mbps by 9pm.


The next two days proved very similar results. When the Field Tech arrived I anxiously showed him my log which he only reluctantly glanced at, ready to dismiss it all in a heartbeat as a minor issue. At first his explanation was "congestion" as my results showed a sharp negative spike after 4pm, the time when folks are arriving home from school or work and burying themselves like zombies in Facebook, games, Netflix or whatever.

My retort was something like, "That's all well and good and I would be happy to agree with if it were not for two underlying and very important factors: 1) This hasn't happened before and we've always had reasonably high speeds - at least 10 Mbps during peak hours; and 2) Look at my lowest recorded speed of 1.37 Mbps. It's not like we live in Sydney CBD!".


He knew I made a great point, even being the braindead imbecile I am when it comes to computers and the internet.

He proceeded to check the 2 points in the house and did some fiddling and testing but hit a stumbling block when he realised his portable modem like tester was low on batteries. He informed me he was leaving (this was close to lunchtime) to go check out the exchange, the distribution spots along the streets inbetween and to get some new batteries and would be back shortly or give me a call.


Gary (as I learned his name to be) returned at about 4 pm. Perfect! Just around the time our net speed began to decline to unusable status, or so the seemingly developing pattern was indicating according to my log. Gary got to witness our terrible speeds with his own eyes. He quite confidently assured us it shouldn't be that low even with half the town suddenly jumping on the net at the same time.


He ran some line tests, from the Exchange to the distribution points and all the way to our merry ol' house and guess what? No problems. He even plugged the cable that comes from the filter/splitter to the modem directly into his gadget and got speeds of 20 Mbps!!!


"This tells me it's working, mate. Run another speed test for us on your PC would ya?".


"Sure, no problem"... (a couple of minutes later), "hmm, 2.15 Mbps". Gary just stood there scratching his head.

I asked him to wait there for a second and went to grab my spouses laptop. We plugged it in, set it up via direct ethernet to the modem and ran another speed test. 2.6 Mbps... That ruled out a computer problem. Later, after Gary left, I tried yet another different laptop with a similar result, therefore ruling out, beyond a doubt, a home computer issue. Besides, I'd already double scanned my PC for viruses and malware that same morning.


I wanted this fixed but Gary was unable to help me (even after trying a 3rd different modem) and told me he'd give me a ring the next day with plans to bring a "level 2" Field Technician with him to try and resolve the issue. About an hour later he rang asking if Monday (it was Thursday) was ok and I told him it was fine if that was the soonest possible. *sigh* We had to put up with this crap for a whole weekend!? Oh well.


I continued with making my log entries but when I found myself unable to even stream a video I thought, 'Nah, this is bullsh#$!' and I rang the Telstra Bigpond Broadband Tech Support line again.


Again the Philippines, again explained the situation. The man wasn't exactly sure what it was I was asking of him. I tried to explain to him the pattern of my speed test log results, arguing that possibly this was an error which he could help me fix, possibly an overlooked account issue or something. In the end I got sick of trying to explain the same thing over and over and told him I had to go and abruptly hung up in frustration. It became quite apparent to me that these Tech Support Phone operators were only trained enough to restart your modem and refer you to someone else who was just as useless.


Did I learn? Nope. I rang again the next night and the night after that, insisting that they put me through to someone who might be able to help me, someone who is super tech savvy. I was starting to wonder if these operators were robots or reading from a script maybe. All I got was seemingly rehearsed assurances and fob offs. Man! Wait a second!!! I then realised something. This isn't the kind of help I was getting from Telstra's Tech Support 2 years ago or even as less as 6 months ago, even if we did get redirected to a Philippine call center. Heck, not too long ago one of them even fully took control of my computer remotely to fix an email issue.


It dawned on me that none of the Tech Support I had spoken to on the phone in the last few days had asked me to do anything more than restart my computer and modem. They didn't ask me to open control panel, check internet settings, go into my modems configuration settings... nothing!


So, over the weekend I was trying some tinkering and googles myself when the phone rang. It was yet another field technician who had been speaking with Gary who had told him good luck if he could figure out our issue. He wanted to drop by and check it out. I entertained the request and after hearing about our issue and scanning over my log quickly he simply told us to keep resetting the modem no matter how many times we had to. To rule out an account issue he hooked our net up to an old modem he had which was signed into the network with a different username and password. Still no 18 Mbps speed. I explained to the well meaning gentleman that nothing helps and he in turned explained that he is not a magician with a magic wand and left with apologies. That was fine as I still expect Gary and his level 2 technician associate to arrive on Monday.


What they will discover is going to be very interesting regardless of the outcome. I am quite confident they will not find a fault as we have pretty much ruled out the following:


- Account issues
- Line fault
- Modem fault
- Computer fault
- Congestion


I am hoping and praying that the problem is at the exchange and is hardware related and is something these field techs can fix because, to be quite frank, the only real other explanation I can think of is sabotage.


But but but... who would do such a thing?!


I used to be a salesman, can sell sand to a beach resort. I know the tricks of the trade. I know when there is a possible con in progress and I smell one right now.


Telstra Platinum was introduced in 2014. Now, Telstra would have us think and believe that this service is something new, an improvement to the already existing services. They paint a pretty picture with their little dances and slogans such as "More than just Tech Support", and for a one off payment for a one time consultation or a monthly fee added to your existing subscription you can take advantage of this amazing, heroic service.


What Telstra fail to inform customers of is that this service has always been provided, long before 2014. The only difference is prior to it being named Platinum we didn't have to pay extra for it!


Seriously Telstra? You think the whole of Australia wouldn't notice this scam? Even if our issue is not being fabricated by Telstra in a bid to have us join Platinum, Platinum in itself is a scam.


The help I used to get from the ordinary level 1 techies on the phone was exceptional. They were very helpful, asking me to go into that setting and to check this option, opening windows, downloading helpful tools, running diagnostics etc etc etc.


If you ring them today and they are unable to help you after a computer and modem restart you are instantly referred to Platinum or a Field Tech, which could both end up costing you extra in the long run.


I want to be wrong, I so do.


I have tried and tried to explain to the phone operators that something just doesn't add up here. I can almost set a watch to the times my net will be giving great speeds to speeds almost comparing to dial up. In my experience, electrical or electronic faults don't behave in such a manner unless they are being manipulated.


My connection issues aren't behaving randomly. It's systematic. It's punctual. It's calculated. It may even be premeditated. One would assume if there was a problem in the lines or at the exchange it would be a giving us a flat and constant low internet speed, not the predictable highs and super lows we have been getting.


Like I said, I want to be wrong. If this level 2 field tech guy can't figure out our problem today and I don't get anywhere with Telstra's complaints department then I will be forced with no other option than to go and see my local state or federal member of parliament.


My prediction of the outcome of our issue is that the field Tech accompanying Gary on Monday will not be able to solve the problem and I will be forced to seek out assistance from Platinum who will miraculously remedy the situation. But I shall not be fooled!


Telstra want to talk about escalating my case to this level and that level? Well, I'll escalate it to a whole other level of my own.


Telstra have shown me in the last 2 weeks that they do not really care, that long standing, great paying customers such as ourselves do not matter that much.

What they have shown me is that they are more interested in saving the company $$$ by outsourcing to Asia and in making more $$$ by inventing supposedly new services like Platinum which are really just old services under the guise of an upgraded fancy new name and which were once available to us and covered by our existing subscriptions.


Shame on you, Telstra... shame.


Good luck to you all.

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