The Australian Government has “crossed the line” by trying to “rush through” legislation that will force telcos and service providers to retain customer metadata for two years, according to industry and political opponents of the bill. This morning’s surprise introduction of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull faced fierce criticism within hours of its arrival, after the Goverment failed to respond to sustained calls for an exposure draft to be released.
iiNet will build and operate Victoria’s free wi-fi network under a $6.7 million deal with the state government and Melbourne City Council. The telco pushed go on the first three wi-fi regions – in the Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo CBDs – today, adding to the list of cities across the country where the ISP has been contracted to roll out free wi-fi networks under various digital economy-boosting schemes. It has already won similar jobs in Perth and Canberra, and its subsidiary Internode will do the same for the Adelaide CBD.
Microsoft today held a launch event for the arrival of its Azure cloud platform in Australia and announced would offer its “ExpressRoute” dedicated fibre connections to its local data centres in partnership with Telstra and Equinix. Microsoft Australia’s US parent last week jumped the gun on the local subsidiary’s launch announcement, revealing Azure would go live in Sydney and Melbourne this week.
Financial regulator ASIC has lobbied the Government to expand the agency’s powers so it can receive telecommunications data from law enforcement bodies to aid in its efforts to combat financial crime. In a recently published submission to a parliamentary committee investigating financial-related crime, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission argued that the national broadband network would render existing sources of data – such as call records – obsolete.
Telstra, the Australian telecoms group, plans to use its A$5bn-plus war chest to pursue growth in Asia but says it will not be rushed into making big acquisitions that do not benefit shareholders. “We have high aspirations to grow our business in Asia. We think it is a great opportunity but it has got to reach our investment criteria,” says David Thodey, Telstra chief executive. “We are very considered investors, just like Warren Buffet, like Microsoft, like any well run company.”
St George Bank has activated Touch ID login for its iOS mobile application following the successful implementation and trials of the biometric technology by subsidiary, Bank of Melbourne. iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus users who own a St George account can now use Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor to log into the app rather than typing account details each time. Support for the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S5 is expected to go live “in the coming months”.
As it lays bets on new technologies and acquisitions, the $68 billion telco is struggling to explain where the next wave of growth is likely to come from. While there’s no shortage of ideas or new businesses opportunities for Telstra to pursue, the unanswered question remains: will any succeed? If you ask Telstra chief executive David Thodey, he will answer with an unequivocal yes.
This week Telstra announced a major investment into the development of its health business, but is our biggest telco facing an uphill battle to make money out of this new venture? The latest addition to its portfolio of health services will come through a collaboration with Swiss company Medgate. Medgate currently offers Swiss patients the ability to consult with a doctor via telephone or computer and to order prescriptions online for home delivery.
The uptake of cloud computing amongst Australian enterprises in particular is skyrocketing, according to analyst firm Telsyte. In the ‘Telsyte Australian Infrastructure & Cloud Computing Market Study 2014′ report by the firm, it was revealed that the total market value for public cloud infrastructure services is set to reach $650 million by 2018, up from $305 million in 2014. In addition, more than half of all organisations greater than 20 employees are now using public cloud IaaS for at least some part of their IT infrastructure, according to the research firm.
NBN Co expects to have reached a deal to resign its $11.2 billion definitive agreements with Telstra by the end of the year, with the network builder’s chief executive today revealing the two had reached material agreement on the new contract. The Coalition Government had originally promised to have the historic renegotiation complete by mid-2014, but Telstra boss David Thodey recently said he expected the discussions to continue into 2015.
iiNet is facing a fresh round of copyright litigation from Hollywood as it seeks to avoid disclosing information about customers suspected of online movie piracy. The internet provider has chosen to fight a federal court application by the owners of the film Dallas Buyers Club requiring it to hand over details of customers suspected of illegally sharing the film online. iiNet’s chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby in a blog post said the ISP had serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s motivations.
If you earn a living off of your own online web store, Alibaba wants your business. The Chinese ecommerce behemoth is partnering with Bigcommerce, a service provider for online retailers, to help international web vendors source products from Alibaba.com, the company’s flagship business-to-business marketplace.
Telstra has unveiled details of its strategy to take advantage of Asia’s rapidly growing appetite for cloud and managed network services. The carrier today revealed it has heavily reorganised its network application services and enterprise divisions to point the business squarely into Asia. It also flagged potential hundreds of millions of dollars in capital spend to establish its presence offshore.
Telstra has been forced to review its handling of complaints about faulty mobile phones after an investigtion by the consumer watchdog uncovered 400 instances where customers may have been misled. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today said that following an investigation into how Telstra staff responded to complaints about faulty mobile phones, it had found customers may have been misled about their consumer guarantee rights, specifically that they weren’t entitled to a refund, replacement or repair.
Australia has today launched the beta site for its redesigned e-government portal, australia.gov.au, asking for user feedback and displaying its current thinking on how the next generation website will look. The site follows on from the alpha site launched in July, ditching images for blocks of text that relate to broad areas of government services. For example, there is a health section, a law and justice section, and a money, benefits and tax section.
Microsoft today confirmed the long-awaited arrival of its Azure cloud service in Australia, announcing general availability from its Sydney and Melbourne data centres as of next week. The company first revealed it would bring Azure to Australian shores a year and a half ago, but has consistently declined to provide an availability date beyond “the end of 2014″.
Victoria’s life sciences supercomputer will continue to operate for another two years, thanks to a $6.65 million funding top-up from the state government following the expiry of its original grant term. The Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) is touted as the world’s largest computational facility dedicated to biological and health studies. It was kicked off in 2009 thanks to $50 million in start-up capital from the government, matched by another $50 million worth of private and research sector contributions.
The amount of requests made by Australian Government agencies for citizens’ phone, internet and location data grew by almost 5 percent in the last financial year, according to the national communications and media watchdog. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today revealed government agencies had made 563,012 authorisations for access to non-content or metadata for criminal law enforcement purposes in the fiscal year to June 2014 [pdf] – an almost 5 percent rise on the 538,317 made in the previous year to June 2013.
Telstra today cut the ribbon on its revamped Sydney headquarters, part of a $112 million refurbishment effort to remodel the centre into a “state-of-the-art customer technology hub”. Telstra’s 400 George St headquarters has been redesigned around the customer in order to create a “digitally intimate experience”, CEO David Thodey said, and now boasts a ‘discovery store’ and collaborative ground floor reception area for staff and Telstra users.
The former boss of telecommunications provider AAPT, David Yuile, has joined network and data centre provider Nextgen Group to head its networks business. Yuile left AAPT in February after the business was bought by internet service provider TPG for $450 million. Nextgen Group CEO Peter McGrath said Yuile’s appointment was designed to boost the company’s focus on its networks operations.