About our new Prime Minister…

Back in the late 1990s I worked in tech support for OzEmail, a company owned & managed to varying degrees by the man who is now Prime Minister of Australia.

Back in those days, Internet access was dialup, and sold based on time connected. Every time you connected to the internet, you also incurred a local phone call with Telstra, who were the dominant local telephony provider, as a part of the process.

So eventually, the economics arrived at a point where we could offer a product that provided for unlimited time dialup – an “always on” internet, provided you could dedicate a phone line to it. The name of this product (from memory) was OzMegaSaver.

Well, there was a problem with OzMegaSaver that soon became apparent – dropouts. People were having huge numbers of disconnections, even after we went through optimising their modem’s initialisation strings, and running up huge phone bills in the process. Thirty cents a call adds up when you’re having multiple disconnects every day. We were instructed, by higher levels of management, to tell customers that at the end of the day, the problem was that their modems were letting go of the connection because their phone line couldn’t sustain the high speed connection.

We certainly didn’t tell them what was common knowledge within the support department – that it was OUR Bay Networks dialup equipment that was disconnecting the customers, and that the problem was so endemic, that Bay Networks had sent staff out from America to try and make the gear they’d sold us work correctly.

You can imagine the outcry, if all those customers knew their massive phone bills were a result of their ISP dumping their connection.

It’s just one anecdote, and Turnbull’s involvement in the company may have been completely incidental to the problems, and subsequent coverup. However, let’s say that when people argued Turnbull’s “experience” in telecommunications counted positively towards his plans for the NBN, that just sounded like a tsunami of fail and farce.