The Week: Bright Sparks

Delusional doomsayers anticipating the decline and fall of Telstra will find little in the latest figures to nourish their dark fantasies. Australia’s largest telecommunications provider has announced annual revenue of $25.1 billion, an increase of 3.4%.

Telstra increased its mobile customer base by 937,000 users, bringing its total number of customers to about 16 million, which is pretty healthy in a nation of about 22 million citizens (or ‘suspects’, as the Attorney-General would prefer). For comparison’s sake, this is about equal to the customer bases of Optus and Vodafone combined. So much for declining market share.

This figure includes about 5.2 million 4G customers. Operating costs also increased, to about $15 billion. Apparently part of this is due to increased expenses incurred by the huge 4G rollout, including lights. One hopes they’ve made the switch to more efficient LED solutions!

Yet Another NBN Review

The Minister for Communications this week released KordaMentha’s Report into NBN Co’s Corporate Governance, the latest in an extensive conga-line of ostensibly independent reports that cleave suspiciously to a position already laid out by the federal government. Someone should let Minister Turnbull know that the 2013 federal election is over, and that his team won. Even the ALP has wearied of reviewing where the last government all went wrong, but there’s no hint of Turnbull’s energy flagging.

Anyway, it turns out the previous NBN Co board underperformed, at least according to this report. The Report concludes with a letter from former NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley, in which he systematically refutes most of the report’s findings. As with most things, it comes down to which version you believe.

Spark New Zealand

Brain-melting slogan of the month goes to Spark New Zealand, the rebranded mobile and internet arm of Telecom New Zealand: ‘Never Stop Starting’.

The trick to spotting a meaningless slogan is that the key terms can be switched around without materially affecting the message, or lack thereof. ‘Never Start Stopping’ makes just as much, or little, sense as the original.

On a related note, I must add that Spark’s logo seems vaguely familiar. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Anyway, it’s interesting to think that the rebranding, the new logo and even the vapid slogans are all the work of consultants, all of whom were no doubt handsomely remunerated. As consultants ourselves, I suppose we cannot begrudge them that. But still, ‘Never Stop Starting’? Don’t get me started. 

At least it’s no worse than Netflix’s assertion that ‘We Value Values,’ which reminds us of Flight of the Conchords insistence that the one thing they really want to deal with as a band is ‘the issues’. Sadly, in only one of these examples was the comedy intentional.

In Other News...

  • Edward Snowden’s initial deluge of juicy intel may have slowed to a relative trickle, but that doesn’t mean it has dried up entirely. It emerged this week that in 2012 The USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) accidentally brought down Syria’s connection to the internet. This morsel emerged as part of a long and very interesting interview with Snowden that appeared in Wired magazine.
  • GetUp! Has launched a campaign against to the federal government's proposed mandatory data retention legislation, which senior figures did such a masterful job selling to Team Australia last week. There's a petition you can sign (or avoid) here.