“No” Optus (why the Australian mobile market sucks), and how to hack your iPhone

by Tim M on January 8, 2010

Disclaimer: before we begin, let me say I am a senior telco engineer, so I’m well across the tricks of the trade, limitations to coverage, product strategy etc.

No, Optus

No, Optus


So, a few months ago, before I headed off to France for the 2009 Le Tour, I got myself an iPhone on the Vodafone/AU network.

The reasons for this were:

  1. Telstra was too expensive, Optus’ network is rubbish (according to my friends – and we all work for an Optus subsidiary!), Three’s coverage in the country relies on Telstra = expensive roaming (and I am in the country a lot)
  2. Vodafone’s website said they roam onto Telstra – this only applies in certain areas, a fact that proved their undoing as we find out later.
  3. Vodafone’s plans are pretty good, and they allow tethering – critical for me here and overseas. Vodafone’s overseas roaming data plan is the absolute market killer in Australia, no one else offers it.

Anyway, after a bit of a kerfuffle with Vodafone over the roaming issue (I said it was misleading, they agreed to release me from my contract), I went to Optus.

Why would I do this given a) above? Well, plenty of people I know are on Optus and usually have coverage, so I figured I’d try a month-to-month plan, i.e. no contract.

So, over to Optus I went, with a fully owned, unlocked iPhone – one day before I headed up to the South Coast of NSW for a week. Imagine my anger, when, upon trying to get tethering working, it was blocked.

Hello?

“yes” Optus? NO, OPTUS.

I own this phone. The very thought that functionality on MY phone that I own outright, could be disabled by Optus, when I am ALREADY PAYING FOR DATA AS PART OF MY PLAN, made me livid. Outraged.

No one told me this when I signed up and made it clear data was my number one priority. No one told me I could pay $10 a month for the privilege of using the full feature set on my phone.

So, when I returned, I went straight to Telstra, who have allowed tethering since December. It’s costing me double, but GODDAMMIT I LOVE ME THE NEXTG NETWORK.

Because I am running firmware version 3 on my iPhone (with some hacks and so on), I didn’t want to upgrade to 3.1, which is the minimum version Telstra says they require to allow tethering.

More horseshit.

If you want to enable tethering on a locked iPhone in the Australian mobile market, go here to do so. You will be emailed a file, which you can open on your phone, which will enable it. It is VERY easy.

This enables tethering on my firmware v3.0 iPhone for all networks that block it, or say they need newer firmware to support it (this means you, Optus and Telstra).

You can find more tethering info here and here.

The Australian telco industry is filled with lies, misinformation and dodgy practices. The way they act, none of these clowns have read What Would Google Do, or any Seth Godin. It’s like living in protectionist Soviet Russia.

Post-script:
As a side note, why even block tethering? It doesn’t make sense. People are still locked into contracts. You have data plan limits (and charge for excess). What gives? Unlocking tethering won’t make it easier for people to switch carriers.

Shithouse service and poor customer focus is what causes people to switch.

The way I see it, unlock the phone, give people great service and plans and they will come.

Optus has done a fantastic job of leading the market in iPhone customer acquisitions, and with the tie up between Voda and Hutch (and a possible expanded network footprint), and Telstra’s possible focus on better data plan pricing, Optus are in deep poop (leaving aside constant network issues).

NOTE: THE USE OF THE OPTUS LOGO DOES NOT MEAN IN ANY WAY THAT I AM AFFILIATED WITH OPTUS, OR TRYING TO RIDE OPTUS’ COATTAILS, OR THAT THEY SUPPORT THIS SITE. I TOTALLY TOOK IT FROM THEIR WEBSITE SO YOU COULD SEE WHY I WROTE “no Optus”.

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How Telstra Can Improve Customer Service — Project Heresy
January 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm
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January 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm

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