1858 the first inter-colony telegraph links were built when Adelaide, Melbourne
and Sydney were linked together with Brisbane being connected three years
later. To emphasise the simplicity of the early networks, the Overland
Telegraph Line was made from a single strand of iron wire. That is a far cry
from a modern network that goes via a complicated array of wireless; wired and
fibre transmissions and is automatically routed at a number of points via a
variety of switches and routers.

Penn, the Telstra CEO, was in Dubbo recently at a Dubbo Chamber of Commerce and
Industry breakfast and, surprisingly enough, spoke about the world of

Penn talks, Australia stops and listens. When it comes to the world of
technology in Australia, there are not many that could claim to be as important
as the Telstra CEO. With a market capitalisation of $63 billion, it sits at
number six on the ASX200 with no other technology companies even in the top
fifty. There are more private shareholders in Telstra than any other company in
Australia and it would be hard to envisage a day going by without every
individual in Australia using some part of the Telstra network.

presented some initial information to explain the complexity of the network we
are dealing with. Most people don’t think too much about what happens on the
other side of their telephone or computer. We simply pick up our phone and dial
a number and expect to be speaking with someone a few seconds later. If it
doesn’t connect or work instantly we say “damned [insert carrier name]” and try
again. When you start to think about the complexity of what happens when we do
make that call, maybe we should actually jump for joy each time a successful
call is made rather than be annoyed when the occasional call is unsuccessful.
That is not so much trying to defend any carrier but to try and think about
what an incredibly complicated network we have.

point that Andy did make was that Telstra received heavy criticism earlier in
the year when a part of its mobile network stopped operating for a two-hour
period (it happened twice). The customer expectation has now been set so high
that every person expects to be connected at all times of the day and night and
we are immediately aware if our phone is not connected. Ten years ago if the
mobile network was down for half a day we may not have noticed but today the
down time is measured in seconds.

an overview of the actual network, Andy started to talk about broad business
concepts. Although he was talking specifically about the Telstra business, the
one thing that has been bleedingly obvious about the CEO Series is that
business concepts are business concepts with just the number of zeroes being
different. Andy spoke about investment in business infrastructure. He spoke of
billions of dollars of investment – about seven billion per annum at the
moment. Obviously businesses in Dubbo are unlikely to start to invest billions
of dollars in infrastructure but the point was made that without ongoing
investment, businesses are doomed. This investment was Telstra’s point of
difference and there is no doubt that Telstra is regarded as having
significantly better coverage than their competitors. For the business owners
sitting in the room, the point made by Andy was that investment into your own
business in infrastructure and in improving the customer experience will
deliver long-term outcomes for the business.

future of telecommunications, according to Andy, is in the increasing volume of
data consumption; mobile usage and digitisation of businesses including the
concept of digitalising the core of businesses to positively touch the lives of

a 40 per cent increase in data usage in Australia over the last year and more
active mobile devices in Australia than people, I think his predictions will
prove to be spot on.

Mathew Dickerson

Scroll to Top