Tasmania Is Cut Off From The World

The Basslink cable connecting Tasmania to mainland Australia has been cut. Repair crews don't yet know exactly where the fault is, the repair bill is projected to be "phenomenal", and full power and Internet connectivity isn't expected to be fully restored until May. Customers of iiNet and Internode in particular are struggling, with services like Steam and peer-to-peer downloading throttled or blocked completely over the weekend.

Australia image via Shutterstock

After Tasmanian IT minister Michael Ferguson stepped in over the weekend, iiNet/Internode parent company TPG pledged to order more bandwidth from Telstra for its customers, through the secondary Telstra-owned cable that is currently Tasmania's only wired link to Australia and the rest of the world. That cable doesn't have anywhere near the capacity of Basslink, though, so Internet restriction and slower speeds will be a fact of life for Tasmanian internet users in the months to come.

Stephen Reid, an iiNet customer, created Is Basslink Fixed, a website that regularly reports the results of a speed test on his 100/40Mbps fibre to the premises NBN connection in Kingston south of Hobart. Over the weekend, it was reporting speeds a fraction of those available to an equivalent connection in Melbourne, and even today his link is wildly variable, sometimes falling to one per cent of his purchased plan speed. There may be enough capacity on Telstra's cable for off-peak use, but peak periods are seeing serious congestion.

DVD rentals are filling the gap left by Netflix and iTunes. But it's worse than that for gamers, with Steam downloads being blocked entirely by iiNet and Internode over the weekend and service restored only after more capacity was purchased.

Peer-to-peer downloads, not only used for Bit-Torrent file sharing but also for game updates by Blizzard Entertainment (and others) are reportedly still blocked entirely by iiNet and Internode.

Power is just as much of a problem for Tasmania as internet access is. 200 diesel generators have been shipped to the island, and old — and reportedly unreliable — gas-fired turbines are being brought back online to help meet residential demand. Around half of Tasmania's power demands are being met by the state's renewable hydroelectric dams, and wind contributes another quarter. The final 25 per cent, though, would normally be met by imported power from the mainland via Basslink, and is currently being contributed by gas and diesel power.

There's no quick fix for Basslink, and no quick fix for Tasmania — this situation will likely be ongoing for months. But online forums like Whirlpool show iiNet and Internode being especially hard hit, and several customers have already canceled their services and churned to competitors running on the Telstra network. Some Telstra customers, too, are complaining of speed 'brownouts' and dropouts during peak times.

With the Telstra cable's capacity being limited by its age and by Telstra's own wholesale pricing, and TPG reportedly delivering only 60 per cent of its required bandwidth to customers, it's almost certain that there won't be enough to go around.

The government, too, is very disappointed in TPG's actions. Telstra is confident its cable can supply Tasmania with 'sufficient capacity" for home and business users, but modern conveniences like Netflix will likely be out of the question for most users until Basslink's connectivity is restored.

Are you living in Tasmania and struggling with limited or inconsistent internet speeds? Tell us in the comments.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo Australia


Comments

    Are you living in Tasmania and struggling with limited or inconsistent internet speeds? Tell us in the comments.

    I don't think they would be able to :P

    But then again with our current internet infrastructure it probably won't feel that different than from any other day of the week.

    Last edited 16/03/16 6:17 pm

      15 people actually replied to this. ;)

      I live in Hobart, Tas and the Internet is pretty bad right now. Weekend was basically unusable, Netflix wouldn't connect and the only games I could play were The Division and World of Warcraft but they were so laggy it wasn't even worth it.
      Seems to have improved a little the last day or two but still slow services and the speed is noticeable compared to a week ago before this disaster 😜

    I also heard Tasmania was actually getting closer to the mainland, because _insert state of your choice here_ sucks.

      ACT fits perfectly. Our government is there and it's the hole in NSW :)

    Tasmanian here. I had a flurry of calls and texts from friends trying to stream films etc. It hasn't REEEEALLY affected me although the new hitman game requires an internet connection for challenges etc, its a great game so far but the connection issues are... an issue. My internet keeps booting me off to the menu, going to make streaming wrestlemania with my mates a little tricky too.

    Another Tasmanian here, Netflix isn't too bad as we apparently have a local server (At least Via Internode), but Gaming, Downloading and pretty much anything that requires decent Internet access outside of Tasmania is dead. Youtube at 240p with Buffering! No other video sites working.

    On the otherhand, Telstra 4g works great! Pity I've already blown my Data on it...

    Hobart here, The world went dark last Friday, Netflix is completely useless. Windows Updates are blocked. I struggled for 3 hours to download a 2mb patch from Steam for Stardew Valley, In the end I resorted to a VPN into Los Angeles, You can actively see throttling trying to stop Usenet but I'm still managing to max out there, Torrents are completely shaped if not blocked.
    YouTube is also dead.

    The final nail in the coffin? I can't even stream porn :/

    I live in Launceston, Tasmania and no I'm not married to my cousin. I recently moved house and last week purchased The Division and a 4g wireless modem - best decision I've ever made. 4g can support smooth multiplayer while my mates are all reading books and checking their terrible connections every 5 minutes for an improvement. I work for a digital marketing agency and luckily we're with Telstra - otherwise I can imagine we' de losing a few of our web clients over this.

    This reminds me of a certain south park episode that involved Randy and alot of ectoplasm.

    I'm with Telstra and haven't noticed anything different. I can still stream and play games although this may change tomorrow when the 2 Telstra owned cables get hammered from the other ISP's.

    Also they have identified and found the fault in which the cable was cut and resulted in this mess. Apparantly May is the deadline for everything to be fixed but due to our unpredictable weather this could get pushed back even later or maybe even sooner if the weather is favourable and coming into winter i'm predicting it will definatly be later than scheduled.

    And the energy shortage crisis is caused by an attempt by our monopoly Power Company ( I thought we had a choice to switch energy providers when basslink came in what happened to that?) To make as much money and draining the dams to unprecidented levels through basslink to the mainland before the Carbon Tax was repelled. (yeah clean energy had carbon tax on it go figure).

    Australia and its third world infrastructure.

    Taswegian chiming in. Where I am, my bandwidth is a bit spotty as-is, due to being at the furthest point possible from the ADSL exchange, and things have absolutely gone to shite. During peak times, I often have to let a YouTube video buffer for some time at 360p, whereas I used to be able to watch 720p videos with no issues. At peak times, I'm seeing P2P downloads max out at anywhere up to 100KBps, where I'm used to seeing 1MBps or more at the same timeframe. It's absolute crap.

    As to the power issue, I've seen the lights flickering a bit, with a total outtage for about 3 hours overnight last week, but nothing really problematic.

    I'm in Hobart with Internode, general use seems to be fine but video streaming is boned. I'm more concerned about the power situation.

    Apparently there is a Netflix server or something in Tas so that service is fine??

    Felt compelled to respond to this article which does little more than highlight some bare minimum facts and even the few written seem to be misrepresented.

    First of all, the ISP providers fucked up in numerous ways the first was that they had 6 weeks notice to make a deal with Telstra to get more capacity o their cables and they didn't.

    Then they failed to inform ANYONE, not just regular customers but people with business connections who need to internet you know to make their god damn living that the cutting of the cable would kill the internet because of the failure above.

    They also didn't inform customer support of why people would be ringing up irrate about broken internet, leaving people such as myself who rang up an hour after the cut being dicked around for 4 hours doing every trouble shooting BS they could come up with before telling me they couldn't find the problem. They didn't even tell their own staff for Christs sake.

    Then when they finally said something it was written in the most offensive and your internet may not work for 3 months so suck it up tone I think i've seen from a company in a long time.

    Then they made another announcement because people went bat shit mad at their first one, that ( paraphrasing) due to government bitching we have been forced to buy capacity off telstra and it will probably be done by thursday and at a less than adequate capacity.

    After the 2nd announcement i called Telstra signed up for the same package with 500gb more data for $10, lady on the phone wasn't down to haggle much. within 32 hours I had functional internet again.

    For reference, I had 100/40 FTTP that was getting 0.02mbps down and 6mbps up with 10% packe tloss after the first 24 hours untill i switched providers. I literally couldn't do anything.
    I was like 6 months into a 24 month contract with IInet but their behaviour means i'm out of that contract for free and if they try and harrass me i'll just complain to TIO.

    I honestly think there should be punitive charges laid against the ISP involved in this fuck up of epic proportions. Oh and 0 problems since the telstra switch, literally just plugged in the ethernet to 2nd NBN port and even the net phone still worked all with iinet modem and my fantastic nighthawk

    In Hobart on iiNet. General browsing is fine and speed tests show that the line speed is about normal (I'm on adsl 2+), but there are obvious things that have been throttled.

    Low quality YouTube was restored last night, but can't access it on my 360. Most other video streaming is either blocked or throttled to the point of being unwatchable.

    Bought an Xbone that'll arrive soon and ask me to download 40gig worth of game plus however many updates, so that'll be a fun amount of time to wait.

    Tasmania Is Cut Off From The World

    Well that's horrifically misleading.

    Are you living in Tasmania and struggling with limited or inconsistent internet speeds? Tell us in the comments.

    I'm with Dodo. Dodo. The night the cable was cut the internet was pretty bad for a few hours, but since then there's absolutely no difference in speed since before that. I understand that NBN customers are being hit pretty badly at the moment, but ADSL2 seems to be fine. I won't be able to get NBN until April 26th I think it was here (they just laid cabling down my street today!), so we'll see if it's any different then (I'll probably be on the phone right on 12am, I've had NBN for the past 2 years and ADSL is painful D:)

    I'd love to take the opertunity to point out that Tasmania was in fact EXPORTING power to the mainland during peak periods then buying it back at a higher rate of peak.
    Now due to a massive stuff up the power company has sold our water as power last summer, leaving the dams empty..... And we never got the rain.
    Now we're paying the price for that waste of time and space cable, the carbon tax and Tasmania's joining to the national grid allowing a kyoto protocol qualification.

    Basslink was the worst thing that's happened to this state in a very long time.

    I moved out of town and Telstra was my only real option after previously having internode. For the first time ever I have the fastest internet in my group of friends.

    Yep, so true. This is the absolute truth. Canberra sux, so boring and nothing ever to do. Roundabouts are so hard to deal with and confusing. Please don't move here................hehe suckers

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