We are coming up to the end of the year with lots of exciting gadgets being announced and released, from new iPhones, gaming consoles and probably a new fridge with built in Alexa.
But before that happens, lets get into the latest goings-on in the Australian tech scene.
Me, Myself and Telstra
Let’s get into our first story – Telstra.
Telstra is being a bit less like Telstra, well sort off.
Telstra is set to permanently change the way it provides customer service after COVID19, by creating call centres in Australia, though the timeline is a little far in the future in 2022.
While a lot of people point to overseas call centres as the biggest problem with Telstra, I think not.
Previously government owned, Telstra trades on the name with many older generations as it touts itself as trustworthy and of course pricey but for that you are supposed to get quality service.
Telstra has great coverage in many regional mine sites and places where no other operators trade, but this latest move is nothing more than a mere reaction to COVID.
Their call centres in Philippines and India were shut down and they had to bring it home to make it work.
This isn’t some sort of bold move to bring jobs back to Australia, so how long will that last?
Well who knows they seem to flip flip back and forth.
There will be more than 1000 new call centre agents located in Australia in 2022, so another one and a half years.
Andy Penn said that they:
“need to maintain inbound calling capacity for customers who want to call us for more complex support, and also for those Australians who are not as comfortable using digital tools”.
He added that
“What it will also mean is that over time, we will need a smaller call centre workforce for our consumer and small business customers,”
“Then, what will happen is that this, in turn, will enable our teams in the Philippines and India to continue to support our digital experiences.”
“The majority of our interactions will occur digitally and we will be able to continue to use our capabilities in places like the Philippines and India to do that.”
This is all in line with the T22 program that will streamline Telstra over the next few years.
So yeah, this is rather temporary but I imagine that during business hours and low call volumes you may end up in an Aussie based call centre, expect that during most other times you will connect to overseas ones.
I have spoken to many overseas call centres and in my experience it has not been bad at all.
Hard border not only thing cutting off West Aussies
This week, Western Australian customers of Aussie Broadband had to deal with a rather odd network issue.
While many connections and websites worked fairly well servers and sites located in the east coast and overseas were running slower than the clock at work.
Aussie Broadband lost their 100Gig Perth to Melbourne link, 100Gig Perth to Sydney link, and two 10Ggig links from Adelaide to Sydney.
Queensland was affected by a third party fibre optic cable too between Brisbane and Sydney.
Most of the traffic has moved over to the redundant path, however latency and packet loss was high.
Well all this was pinpointed to the fibre link owned by Vocus, where some apparent civil works broke a few fibres.
I would like to add that both providers were quick to let their users know about the issues and the problem was remedied within a day.
Aussie Broadband moved their traffic via a Telstra connection to Singapore in WA to reach the USA and East Coast states were routed via Telstra Sydney link to reach Singapore and get to those precious Facebook servers in the US.
This helped ease the traffic and at least connect everyone.
Sounds like someone didn’t do their dial before you dig.
NBN job cuts
Let’s move onto our next story, In rather sad news NBN Co has cut 800 jobs, this is not necessarily due to COVID or money issues but rather a restructure.
The company has completed the build phase of their life cycle and is now moving to a network operator.
Here is what CEO Stephen Rue had to say:
“As we have approached the final stages of the initial build, we have talked about changing the size and shape of the organisation and we are now preparing for the next phase of the company’s evolution,”
They will be reducing the workforce from around 6300 employees to around 5500 people by the end of this calendar year and COVID-19 had in fact delayed the restructure to cope with the demand.
The restructure will be effective starting from 3rd August 2020. Here are the changes that will take place:
● The organization plans to consolidate its Marketing and Sales teams for both commercial and residential customers.
● The combined unit will be called Customer, Product and Marketing and is to be led by Brad Whitcomb as Chief Customer Officer.
● Networks, Engineering and Security business unit will be set up to Integrate Engineering, Networks, Technology and Architecture functions of the organization and will be led by Chief Engineering Officer John Parkin.
● The telco’s Network Planning and Development will be renamed and moved into the Operations department and will be led by its Chief Operations Officer, Katherine Dyer.
● The company’s Strategy and Transformation department will absorb Legal, Data and Analytics will be renamed to Strategic Services and continues to be led by Will Irving, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer.
● The Finance, Service and Analytics unit will be renamed to Finance. Chief Finance Officer Philip Knox will take charge of this unit.
Its always a shame to hear jobs being lost, so I wish the 800 people all the best in their search for employment during this especially difficult time.
Australia’s consumption rambunction
Some states are making their way back to the office, but it seems many are still working from home, not only that but consumption of the internet has not lowered, or at least by not much.
NBN Co said it may be due to streaming services like Netflix and Youtube removing their temporary bit rate limits, but I have my doubts.
It’s more likely that many have got the taste of internet goodness and aren’t stopping anytime soon.
In the weekly report Australian Broadband Data Demand we have seen a weekly download throughput peak of 12.8 Terabits per second (Tbps) recorded on Saturday, 27 June during the evening busy hours and a weekly upload throughput peak of 0.90 Tbps recorded on Sunday, 28 June during the evening busy hours.
Then in Victoria we saw a 15-20% increase as they went into semi lockdown and I can bet that next week’s report on the full lockdown will have that percentage skyrocket.
I would like to also add that in general there has been an easing of usage across the network which is certainly expected, but I also envisage a big economical change for those who might not go back to the office at all and work from home.
I don’t believe it’s going to be a small number.
(GoPro) Hero’s in a time of COVID
During the peak of COVID19 we saw webcams, headphones and microphones sell out like potatoes at the shire.
Even now some places still have items on backorder or not in stock at all and while a lot of the shortage has been attributed to delays in shipping, a lot can be said to people working from, and never before having used a webcam or microphone from home.
It was time to stock up.
But if you were one of those people who had purchased a GoPro Hero 8, who thought they would become a star of their own action adventure traveling the world, purchaing flights and tickets on adventures of a life only to then to be stopped by COVID-19, you’re in luck.
Having to cancel plans and go back to office, to then be told nope you go work from home, you can at least use your GoPro as a webcam officialy but only on mac for now.
This is something GoPro could have done many years ago – it’s such an obvious and fruitful endeavour, with its great sensor and lens and powerful hardware, why cant it be used as a webcam?
Well generally speaking GoPro – like Apple – locks the crap out of their devices locking out any third party accessories that require plugin into the ports, over time its gotten even worse.
Using new beta software, you can transform the Hero 8 into a webcam that connects to your computer via USB for use on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing services.
In the past the only way to do this was to stream out of your GoPro via a HDMI dongle into a video capture card and with some software trickery you could stream it to your Windows 10 PC.
Image quality is certainly better than a generic laptop webcam, though not as close as a nice DSLR.
It’s by far not the worst option especially if you have one, but I would suggest you don’t go out and buy one just for that as there are cheaper options that are now back in stock.
While this is very cool, the problem is it only works for the Hero 8 and GoPro has not mentioned any plans to support other products – which I think they should – as you certainly can get a lot more value out of it.
Windows 10 support is currently in development, and is expected to release in the coming months.