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Major Australian ISP Pulls OpenOffice

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-stand-the-competition dept.

Software 336

thefickler writes "Australia's largest Internet service provider Telstra BigPond has removed OpenOffice from its unmetered file download area following the launch of its own, free, hosted, office application, BigPond Office. The removal of OpenOffice was brought to TECH.BLORGE's attention by a reader, who complained to Telstra BigPond's support department about no longer being able to download OpenOffice updates. The support people were quite open about why OpenOffice was no longer available, i.e. because it was perceived to be competitive with BigPond Office."

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http://www.openoffice.org/ (-1, Redundant)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744650)

the fix for this is not a big deal - it fit in the subject field of this post.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (5, Informative)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744704)

I believe the issue is that for Australians using this ISP, downloading it from www.openoffice.org will incur bandwidth charges (as opposed to downloading the competing application from the ISP's official download siter).

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (0)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744818)

Then they need this one: http://distribution.openoffice.org/cdrom/index.html#cdrom [openoffice.org]

I can't think up a good reason as to why this company should subsidize a competing product.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (5, Insightful)

Broken Toys (1198853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744912)

They're an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They're not supposed to decide what you can or cannot download. They're only supposed to provide the means to connect to the Internet and to let you do what you will on the Internet.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744992)

Well I guess it's their job to mirror the Open Office website then.

It really is kind of lame of them, but it is perfectly understandable, and if there is a huge problem someone should open up a mirror in Australia, and put some adds up.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (5, Informative)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745570)

Yeah, the GP got it wrong. Previously BigPond were a mirror, and would allow unmetered downloads (that's right, Australia's largest ISP provides only metered plans.. although they used to have some that were called unlimited, until our equivalent of the FCC told them to stop it.) for their own customers.

I admit, it still doesn't seem like much, but Telstra/BigPond's cheapest and most heavily advertised ADSL2+ product has only 200mb of prepaid bandwidth, with excess @ 15c/Mb and it has a lockin contract.

The ~120mb OOo download will now take up the majority of an uneducated customer's monthly uncharged bandwidth.

Yes, there are much better ISPs in Australia, but many people still unfortunately use BigPond, mostly for bad reasons.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745006)

Yes, and in return you pay them for the privilege. BigPond customers can do just that: they can download OpenOffice.org from openoffice.org, and the bandwidth they use will come out of the bandwidth allowance they've paid for. This is perfectly reasonable.

All that's happened is that BigPond have stopped offering a special download that didn't come out of the bandwidth allowance. They aren't stopping people downloading OOo who want to download OOo, they just aren't giving people who want OOo special treatment any more. They are being more net neutral, not less. What exactly is wrong with this?

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (2, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745080)

Actually, not true, because now they're giving special treatment to users of their own service.

Slightly less net neutral than before.

so to be completely neutral they should charge? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745310)

I guess if they didn't have a competing product and eliminated their free download area entirely you'd be happy?

Hmm, come to think of it, that is the fairest solution.

Re:so to be completely neutral they should charge? (4, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745630)

FWIW:

Deakin University http://www.deakin.edu.au/ [deakin.edu.au]
Newcastle University http://www.newcastle.edu.au/ [newcastle.edu.au]

3 Downloads for these sites will not attract usage charges for BigPond Members - Please be sure to check that data accessed is from the featured University sites and is not from a linked 3rd party site.
So one of these to universities should have a copy available for download. Also, if you proxy through them likely you could bypass the meter all together. Just get a mirror repository to be hosted by one of the unis for sourceforge and you will be good to go.
-nB

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745044)

didn't read TFA did ya? If you did - but still hold that opinion, I'm flying to Hungary next month and first class seats were way out of my budget. Can you mail me $2400 dollars so I don't have to ride back in coach? It'd be the right thing to do.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (-1, Offtopic)

Broken Toys (1198853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745182)

I live near Hungary and they don't have such restrictive ISP policies.

Sorry about your airline seating arrangements. I'm still trying to figure out what they have to do with the topic but apparently they're of significant interest to you.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745262)

My point, that apparently didn't get across, is that I will get less because I'm paying less. This guy has opted for a plan that restricts the amount he can download or he has to pay more. The ISP used to host OpenOffice and allow users to download it without it counting against the cap. Now they don't. He can still go download it - but it may force him to end up paying more for his internet access. And I don't see why that is the ISPs problem. Just like I don't blame Delta that I will have less room on my flight - unless somebody decides to upgrade my ticket for me. I figured if you wanted this persons ISP to upgrade his account for free, you might want to upgrade my flight.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (2)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744854)

To quote what I feel is the best part of the article:

"The action also seems to be driven by a lack understanding of what BigPond Office is actually about. As a hosted online application, BigPond Office is useful for people who want to access their documents from different machines; it's not really a viable alternative to Microsoft Office or OpenOffice. BigPond Office is competing with the likes of Google Docs, and is really only of interest to BigPond users who can access BigPond Office without using up their monthly bandwidth quota. It's highly unlikely that someone would download OpenOffice, instead of signing up for BigPond Office."

I don't think it's a misunderstanding on the part of their management at all. They want to significantly increase the cost of acquiring what they (right or wrong) believe to be a competing product by making said acquisition expensive in terms of bandwidth cost. What to do?

Get a large group of like-minded people together and burn a shitload of OO.org CDs. Pass them out like candy to anyone who asks for them. Send a copy to your local newspapers with an explanation of what BigPond is doing. Maybe put up a custom web site (the domain screwbigpond.org.au comes to mind) where people can sign up to have a copy of OO.org mailed to them for el cheapo.

Be creative.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

WilliamTS99 (942590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745508)

Bigpond decided to stop subsidizing the cost of distributing OpenOffice.org. I don't see the problem here. If you don't like it, change your plan to un-metered, change your ISP, or go to the library with your USB memory stick.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (4, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744706)

Unfortunately for people whose connections are metered, it is. The ISP in question meters its users' usage, but had OpenOffice in an area where users could download freely without being metered. The ISP removed OpenOffice from that area, so its users now much use ~100 MB of bandwidth to download OpenOffice and its updates.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

Lunzo (1065904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745032)

I would say the metering makes this a problem, but Telstra broadband isn't aimed at nerds. It's aimed at the average person who, let's face it, probably hasn't heard of open office.

We can see that Telstra is aimed at the average Aussie by examining what they offer in the way of broadband. Their plans are as a rule more expensive than what the competition offers (not sure how that works considering they are the wholesaler as well as a consumer ISP) and often come with hefty "hidden" charges (usually $0.15 per Mb referece [bigpond.com] ) for going over miniscule download limits. The reason they get away with this is slick marketing and plenty of muscle politically from previously being the government monopoly telco in Australia. Many normal people think Telstra BigPond IS broadband, and don't know about other ISPs.

In contrast, nerds are aware that there are many ISPs in Australia (well at least in the capital cities) and can research plans on sites such as http://whirlpool.net.au/ [whirlpool.net.au] . The nerds, who would be likely to download open office, would generally be on better plans with other ISPs where the size of the open office download isn't going to be an issue.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745256)

>> We can see that Telstra is aimed at the average Aussie

So, in other words, the average Aussie is a complete and utter idiot?

$150/GB? Dang that's expensive (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745574)

From referece [bigpond.com] [sic]:

Additional usage charged at $0.15/MB, except for members on the BigPond Liberty plans. If you are on a BigPond Liberty plan, once you reach your usage allowance, the speed of your service will slow to 64kbps.
I'm all in favor of metered bandwidth but it should reflect cost. I'm sorry but I just don't see a customer downloading 1GB above the quota costing the provider $150 a month. At the DSL2 speeds of 20Mbps, you can hit 1GB in less than 7 minutes.

Well, at least they ahve the Liberty plan that just throttles you to dialup speeds after less than a 14 hours per month of full-throttle downloading.

Is there any justification for these high marginal per-GB fees?

How much does 100MB cost? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745272)

How much would it cost someone to buy 100MB of bandwidth?

Are we talking 10 cents, a buck, $10, or $100?

If it's 10 cents quitchurbitchin. If it's $10, which it very well might be if you are pushing your quota limit and must go to the next-highest rate plan, then you have a legitimate gripe and should probably just buy a CD. If it's $100 well folks, we've got a serious problem.

By the way, are the Australian environmentalists up in arms over how this may encourage waste by encouraging people to buy CDs rather than download it?

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745506)

"The ISP in question meters its users' usage"

Say, about that, how do they diffrentiate between solicited and unsolicited traffic? I mean, if I decided to send a whole bunch of packets to some poor Telstra subscriber, would they actually be charged for those packets? Or is their entire network firewalled and inaccessible from the outside world?

The very idea that anyone on the internet could decide the size of your next bill would make a metered ISP a very dubious proposition imo.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745634)

To put in perspective the entry level plans [bigpond.com] have measly bandwidth quotas from 200mb to 600mb per month. Then to add further insult to injury any additional usage is charged at $150 per GB.

However don't think all Aussie internet is as bad as this, there are many competing ISPs [whirlpool.net.au] so you would have to be a complete idiot to sign up to Bigpoo.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744730)

That would seem ideal but openoffice has its flaw and security issues as well [myminicity.com]

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (2, Informative)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744864)

Blatantly off topic, but my karma's fucked anyway - these posts are one of the best adverts possible for Noscript [noscript.net] . All that posting goes to waste if the Javascript won't start.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745030)

You are but one.... I can not be stopped [myminicity.com]

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745148)

except, dude, your link is broken.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744752)

But wait, i now see the big deal which i missed before i posted, the key word here is 'unmetered'. I didn't realize that they were still sticking it to their users like the bad old days of the likes of genie and CompuServe dial-up, pay per use bandwidth.

So, I guess downloading OO from somewhere else counts against your time and i assume costs money. Before they pulled it, it was free to fetch.

sucks to be them.

Telstra BigPond's usage meter rates... (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745084)

...are available here [bigpond.com] .

Looks like plans capped at anywhere from 200MB to 60GB per month, with a $0.15/MB (AUD, not USD) overage charge on some plans. On one plan (Liberty plan), they severely throttle your bandwidth once you hit the limit.

Re:Telstra BigPond's usage meter rates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745624)

Yep, I'm on a 20GB 'Liberty' plan and half the month I'm stuck on dialup speeds (~64k). Beats the hell out of paying 15c/MB though. There are many other ISPs around with much better deals, I'm just stuck on a cable modem and they're the only providers.

Re:http://www.openoffice.org/ (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745280)

The truth is even funnier. In the linked article, clicking on the link to "BigPond Office" takes you to docs.google.com. Wow. Wonder if the author intended to link to this site [bigpond.com] instead...

Also... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745442)

the fix for this is not a big deal - it fit in the subject field of this post.

I have an easier to remember url [justfuckinggoogleit.com] for that :)

Why do they even try? (2, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744666)

All the big ISP's seem to be convinced they can keep people in their own little ecosystem.  God knows why.  Like, what if one of their users tries to send a file generated by their supercool Bigpond Office software to someone, I dunno, who doesn't use BigPond?  And it doesn't work?  How useful is that?

How about forcing their customers too.. (4, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744754)

I hate your font, it's so damn small..

Anyway on with the topic, I have one better then that.

What if the ISP restricted file transfers of .odt files since after all it would "be competitive with BigPond Office".

Re:How about forcing their customers too.. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744996)

That, my friend, is what SSL is all about.

Re:How about forcing their customers too.. (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745010)

The point is they were previously getting free bandwidth to download OO.org. But now, after the ISP released a competing version, they're not providing free bandwidth to download OO.org.

Why stop there? (2, Funny)

kramulous (977841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745354)

I wish my ISP would stop all the .doc, .xls and .ppt files that come through. My world would be a smiler, happier place filled with rainbows and dew drops on kitten whiskers.

Re:How about forcing their customers too.. (4, Informative)

WilliamTS99 (942590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745594)

They are not restricting anything, they just stopped subsidizing the download of OpenOffice.org.

Re:Why do they even try? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744756)

The ISPs in question have been interogated by the fbi [myminicity.com]

Re:Why do they even try? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744834)

You stupid troll. As if anyone believes an Australian ISP hasn't been interrogated by the FBI at some point. I mean really, the last Australian government had it's head so far up GWB's ass they thought the sun came from the ground.

Re:Why do they even try? (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744990)

That simile stinks!

Re:Why do they even try? (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745038)

Aw... shit. I just failed junior high English based on that. I should have said, "That metaphor stinks!".

Re:Why do they even try? (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745236)

It's a metaphor, you insensitive clod! (Similes use "like" or "as".) It did stink, though.

own little ecosystem (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744962)

In some areas, they do have one as you really dont have any practical alternatives other then disconnecting.

Re:Why do they even try? (1)

neildiamond (610251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745326)

Useful or not, works well for China!

Situation Normal (1)

goingforaslash (1195043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744682)

Hellstra have always put money before all else!

Other sites? (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744694)

Are their users restricted to only get what is offered by their ISP? If not, why not just go somewhere else to download?

Its their storage/local bandwidth that is at stake here, why should they support competing products since one is their own? Or am i missing something key here?

Re:Other sites? (1)

raving griff (1157645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744806)

From what I gather, only the applications that this ISP hosts can be downloaded for free. Other applications will be metered, and the downloaders will be billed for the bandwidth they spend downloading from other sites.

Re:Other sites? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744824)

I believe the issue at hand is that users of this ISP pay per Mb download or are limited by their plan on how much can be downloaded per week/month. It's not a problem of accessing those downloadables, rather a matter of now having those downloadables go against your alloted amount of data use charges when they were once offered "toll free" from the ISP.

Re:Other sites? (4, Informative)

ozzee (612196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745024)

In Australia, ADSL is a joke. Telstra was once a government owned monopoly and now it is a legislated one, owning all the last mile copper and being the only one responsible for installing new phone lines. Telstra also markets it's own ISP - Bigpond.

Telstra has no incentive to make DSL more affordable and has even taken the prior government to court over attempts of the government to do so. It appears that the only thing Telstra and Optus (the co-horts of Telstra) understand is that by holding the reigns on services and service prices in their tight control will make them more money. The "pair-gain" crazyness is another example of just how stupid the situation is.

In defence of Telstra's management, that is exactly what the arrangements of privatization regulations encourage. It really is another one of these privatizations gone crazy scenarios.

It should be of no surprise that Telstra would do this with OpenOffice. I think that the public expect Telstra to have the interests of it's customers as a primary objective but it should be no surprise that the shareholders hold the attention of the management.

The only way to fix this is to remove the monopoly protections. Telstra needs to be changed by the government and it's monopoly broken if Australia is every going to get services that are other than a joke.

Having said that, the new Rudd government has made a pledge to make improvements in internet access, although I think it's going to be a hard one to pull off.

Are there alternatives? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745650)

Are cable, satellite, microwave, WiMAX, cellular, or other media viable options for decent-speed Internet?

Re:Other sites? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745134)

Perhaps conflict of interest? Improper product tying?

all the best,

drew

Re:Other sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745642)

No, it's not improper product tying. Under Australian law, Bigpond can sell or make available whatever products it wants, in the same way that you can't force a retailer to stock a particular product.

Bigpond would be breaking the law if it attempted to restrict its users from downloading Open Office from other sources, but this is not what it's doing.

Most Bigpond plans give you a download/upload allowance, but on top of that allowance you have 'unmetered' downloads that Bigpond makes available -- typically music, movies and games.

Bigpond users can still download Open Office -- it just counts against their allowance.

And Bigpond users who have unlimited plans can download as much as they want.

Re:Other sites? (2, Informative)

CaptainDefragged (939505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745712)

Tel$tra aren't restricting anything per se. What this is all about is that Tel$tra BigPond charge for data as well as bandwidth. They also charge for backhaul, so your 200mb plan (for $29.95 / month for 24 months) includes all traffic in both directions. Now, while this sounds crap, they do provide some areas of hosted content that are not included in that 200mb. There is FileArena, which provideds Australian mirrors of popular files. There is also GameArena, which has popular game downloads (demos/patches/etc) as well as game servers. The reason I use the 200mb example is because that is the plan that has been pushed heavily through the media for the past couple of years. From TFA it would appear that OO has been removed from FileArena. Sucks if you are on the 200mb plan.
Most people that have a clue stay as far away from Tel$tra as is possible, so I find it most surprising that "an IT veteran with more than 25 years experience in the IT industry" would go anywhere near BigPond. Telstra are blood sucking leeches and this kind of move is not in the least be surprising.
Although not unmetered, if you want a fast Australian mirror of this sort of thing, first port of call should be http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/ [aarnet.edu.au] which is only accessable to Australians.

Storm, meet tea-cup (-1, Offtopic)

tagishsimon (175038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744698)

Because it's so difficult to type http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org] into your browser. Slow new day?

Re:Storm, meet tea-cup (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744856)

Are you volunteering to pay for the bandwidth consumed? Are you unfamiliar with the concept of "metered" access? Did you miss the part of TFA which pointed out that once upon a time, Telstra customers could download OO.o without burning into their prepaid bandwitdth quota, but now they can't, and the reason this has happened is that Telstra feels threatened by OO.o?

Yeah, I thought so. This is /.; it's easier to whip out a quip than actually read and comment intelligently.

Now comes the part where you sidestep how thoroughly you misapprehended the situation by muttering off-topic and irrelevant criticism of metered access.

Re:Storm, meet tea-cup (2, Informative)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744866)

"Because it's so difficult to type http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org] into your browser."

No, the point is that the ISP previously offered OpenOffice on their servers which would not count towards users' monthly download limits. Now, they've removed it from the "free area" and users will have to take a 120+mb hit to their monthly bandwidth limit to download the software.

Frankly the whole concept of "unmetered free download areas" reeks of AOL and CompuServe, to me, but I guess it's beneficial for users with a really low and strictly-enforced monthly download limit.

Re:Storm, meet tea-cup (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745728)

I guess it's beneficial for users with a really low and strictly-enforced monthly download limit.
Which unfortunately describes every Bigpond user out there. They have a choice between metred @ 15c/MB or shaping down to 64k once they hit the quota associated with their monthly bill. Luckily there are hundreds of other ISPs around, but the concept of unlimited internet is nonexistent thanks to Telstra owning most of the infrastructure from the last mile copper to the overseas cables. They are abusive monopolists, and when they make decisions like this can be as callous and petty as they like.

MS also don't host OOo (1, Funny)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744700)

In further news, Microsoft, creator of MS Office, also do not host downloads of Openoffice.org. More news at 11. maybe. if no real news appears before then

Why is this news ? (5, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744710)

They want to sell more of their product so they take something else out of the front window.

They are an ISP, if they blocked their customers from reaching http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org] that would be news.

Re:Why is this news ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744828)

I beg to differ. If the ISPs were allowed to do this then we would no longer be allowed to freely surf the net. [myminicity.com]

It's not news... (was Re:Why is this news ?) (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745222)

It's not news, it's Fark.

Oh, wait.

Re:Why is this news ? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745352)

Why is this news? Because it's an important move by a major ISP, a blow to Open Office, and a milestone on the road from local applications to web hosted applications.

Why should we be up in arms about this? Nobody said we should be. There are other reasons to care about events, believe it or not.

Oh no! (0)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744720)

Now where will people get OpenOffice???

Oh wait.

Wow, how slightly irritating... (4, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744748)

Company doesn't want to supply free bandwidth to a competitor, so they pull that competitor's download. Consumers can still download the competitor's product for free elsewhere on the internet. I just can't bring myself to be outraged about this.

Re:Wow, how slightly irritating... (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744980)

I imagine it'd be much easier if you were used to Telstra's corporate policy. There's a lot of bad karma there.

Re:Wow, how slightly irritating... (1)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745140)

Well, metered access is definitely outrage-worthy, don't get me wrong. The problem is the metered access, though, and not the fact that they're not offering a specific product for download.

Re:Wow, how slightly irritating... (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745420)

If you think about it for a second, this is the edge of the wedge when it comes to destroying net-neutrality. What happens when they start letting you send documents encoded in their format "for free" or "at reduced cost" ? I bet their customers pay a subscription fee which means that you can just as well view this as charging more for downloading OO.org as it is ceasing to charge it reduced cost. Let this slip and you will soon be paying extra to e-mail customers not on their network. Of course, it will be touted as "free bandwidth if you e-mail customers at this network" , which sounds good, until you realise nothing is free, and that what they are really doing is to charge you for the bandwidth using a subscription fee, and then charge you extra every time you download a competitors product. This will end in anti-trust mark my words.

Not really news (3, Insightful)

pkadd (1203286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744766)

...unless you count "acting as any company with some sense of business-strategy would have done" as news.

Re:Not really news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744846)

Well if they were really smart they would have kept an old, buggy version of OO on the site. Or even introduce some bugs in the updates they host. To tarnish the competition.

Re:Not really news (1)

pkadd (1203286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745104)

THAT would have been news

So? (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744790)

I don't see the big deal. They're just saying that if you want to download OpenOffice (a product they feel competes with their services) you'll have to pay for the privilege rather than offer it to you as an unmetered download. Not a particularly enlightened approach, but they are certainly within their rights to do this. You can still download open office from lots of other places. Download it, throw a copy on your USB thumbdrive and give it away to as many people as you like. :)

Cheers,

Big Pond? (4, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744890)

I live north of the equator. Exactly how big is this ISP that they can afford to develop their own office suite? And what is the business plan behind this? Especially since it competes on one side with Microsoft Office and on the other with openoffice.org.

Re:Big Pond? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745126)

It seems to actually be a competitor to Google Docs, but your point is still a good one.

Re:Big Pond? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21745136)

Bigpond is the largest ISP in Australia by a long way. They are part of Telstra the recently privatised government owned telco that enjoyed a monopoly for decades and continues to do so as it owns almost all of the network infrastructure in the country.

Re:Big Pond? (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745170)

I live north of the equator. Exactly how big is this ISP that they can afford to develop their own office suite?

They're very big, you might know them by the name Telestra. BigPond is a subsidiary and the dominant ISP in Australia. They didn't develop it, they just rebranded ThinkFree after licensing it from Haansoft.

And what is the business plan behind this? Especially since it competes on one side with Microsoft Office and on the other with openoffice.org.

Partly I think it is value added to compete with the other ISPs (they actually have some competition still). They may be selling support and addition services to the business market in the future.

Re:Big Pond? (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745264)

They're a subsidiary of Telstra, which is the largest provider of both local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL and cable internet access in Australia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telstra [wikipedia.org]

My guess is that they would be comparable to AT&T in terms of how they compete with other products/companies.

Then again, I'm from New Zealand, so don't have a great grasp of either AT&T or Telstra — we do have Telstra[Clear] here, but it's somewhat swamped by our Telecom/Xtra.

Re:Big Pond? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745410)

I doubt if even a big ISP can afford to develop its own office suite. Very likely this is a rebranded version of software that they've licensed from somebody else. It probably won't be too long until every ISP has something similar.

Re:Big Pond? (5, Insightful)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745652)

Exactly how big is this ISP
It's already been answered a bunch of times - they're freakin' huge - but those answers left out one important detail. Telstra, who use the Big Pond (AKA big pwnd) brand for their ISP business, used to be the government monopoly, but have been sold off by the previous government. This has led to all sorts of craziness, since they own all of the infrastructure and have been forced to lease it to competing companies.

They've been complete pricks about the whole thing (selling bandwidth to individuals at a cheaper rate than claim that they are able to sell it to ISPs, creating crazy caps on bandwidth with massive fees for going over, deliberately holding back the rollout of ADSL 2+, etc).

They are widely despised by the Australian internet community. Oh for the days when natural monopolies were retained by the state and rented to companies/individuals at fair rates... (I know, I must be a socialist or something, right?)

The immature thing to do. (5, Interesting)

ShagratTheTitleless (828134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744914)

Everyone using that ISP could set up a script to download BigPond Office over and over when their machine is idle. ;) Bah, it would probably violate their T.O.S. and lag out the network for everyone else.

Host THIS: (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744922)

Personally, I'd call 'em and ask what you're supposed to use for an office suite if their "hosted" solution is down for maintenance, or if the phone company cut one wire too many. Ask if they'd be ready to pay the salary of the average office worker that suddenly can't work.

If not, ask them to send you their copy of OO on any disk they can burn it on. ;)

Re:Host THIS: (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745492)

I'm pretty sure the answers would be: "Don't care" and "No" in that order. What then?

HOMO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21744934)

Confusing article title (1)

jmdc (1152611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744954)

I came away unclear about what actually happened. Just exactly what is the unmetered file download area? Did they just decide to stop being a mirror for openoffice? Are they doing something more malicious? If all that was done was some company stopped mirroring an open source project because they are launching a competitor, I fail to see what is remotely surprising about that.

Re:Confusing article title (4, Insightful)

ozzee (612196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745190)

Just exactly what is the unmetered file download area?...

Bandwidth caps in Australia are on every ADSL plan. This is usually because the bandwidth costs to the ISP are quite heavy compared to the USA. Most content comes from the US (google, youtube, yahoo etc) and so Telstra (owner of Bigpond) gets to set monopoly prices. To make the bandwidth cap a little more palatable, many (most) ISP's mirror content or large files on servers on their networks so there is no impact on their running costs. In a competitive move, Telstra/Bigpond have done the same thing.

Why Telstra thinks that removing OO from their unmetered server is going to gain them any kudos is a mystery. However, if you put on your monopoly management hat, you can see why. In this case I'd say it's purely evil (tm) as the competitive advantage of not having OO downloadable is next to nothing.

Re:Confusing article title (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745654)

Bandwidth caps in Australia are on every ADSL plan. This is usually because the bandwidth costs to the ISP
Not every plan, but most. I personally am on an unlimited (AUD$50) plan.

Don't be evil (1, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744956)

This will be news when Google search no longer returns OO results. Kinda dumb, since online apps are not going to replace offlne ones anytime soon IMHO. Surely much better to encourage their use, (if you're trying to sell such concepts/services) by 1. making better bridges between online & offline docs. 2. building trust by not acting stupidly.

I'm really going to trust my data with asshats like this?

and don't forget cover CDs (2, Informative)

nozzo (851371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744960)

If you really don't want to download it then it's on the coverdisk of some magazines, in the UK it's in PC Pro for example with updated versions each month.
It does seem small minded of the ISP to behave this way - but hardly the end of the world.

Try dealing with Bigpond billing (2, Informative)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745012)

Earlier this year (several months ago) they switched billing systems. You'd think this is a good thing as their previous billing system was a bit of a joke. (For a long time the only ways you could pay was via credit card or by walking into a telstra shop or post office. After years of this they added BPAY but not automatic payment).

- The new billing system still does not recognise certain discounts. I've called repeatedly about this and been promised they will be applied retrospectively once the billing system is fixed, but that they can't give an ETA. I don't know if I'll ever see that money, and I'm considering switching to a different ISP. (The only reason I'm hesitant is that I'm on cable and other ISPs would be ADSL. If my phone lines aren't niece in addition to setup costs I have to worry about an ADSL filter etc.)

- The new billing system allows for automatic payment. The old system did not. What they fail to explain to you when they tell you this is that if you apply for automatic payment, you will no longer receive paper bills. What's worse it's not even possible on their new system to have both paper bills and automatic payment. Email's nice but it's still difficult for some employers to accept an emailed bill if they're paying a portion of your Internet bill as part of your entitlements. (Fortunately it's not been as big a problem with my employer as I thought it would be).

- When I made a formal complaint through superviser, I was put on hold on and off for about an hour then told that the system was running slow and that I'd be called back to confirm the complaint had been put in. I provided my mobile number, which they did call just the once but since I didn't answer it they didn't bother to call or email again.

Bigpond has always been a pig of a company to deal with and they're only getting worse.

Still Available (0, Offtopic)

Derek the Donutmaker (1204868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745092)

This story is not quite true, given the software is still available from Telstra, just harder to find [tinyurl.com]

Re:Still Available (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745282)

tinyurl is lame. You can use HTML tags. Learn how to make a hyperlink of text. It's way easier.

Metered-Unmetered (2, Informative)

emjoi_gently (812227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745234)

One thing to note is that Australian net users, and especially customers of Bigpond, have fairly tight, stingy, download quotas. This means that the unmetered archives becomes important when you want to download the large stuff. Having said that, just how often do you download a fresh copy of OOO anyway?

Not surprised (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745302)

I am not surprised at all. I think that people today take the Internet and ISP's for granted. I am sure there are a lot of people complaining and crying foul.

What people need to remember is that for-profit companies make up nearly the ENTIRE infrastructure of the Internet. I am not even aware of the percentage and makeup of the non-profit Internet anyways.

When the Internet started gaining popularity ISP's did treat their customers like caged in little wallets with fluffy ears. AOL is the best example and still around. A person is not entitled to a "free" Internet. It is not a right granted by any government that I know of. It's not in the US bill of rights, no amendment has been made either.

It is the same confusion regarding automobiles. No one has an actual right to drive. It is a privilege extended by the community, city, state, government, etc. Every US citizen has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Though, not at the expense of others. Automobiles are inherently dangerous and should be controlled in their use.

Unless an ISP specifically grants by contract a "free" Internet void of any content management, filtering, restrictions, etc, the customer has no recourse legally. The whole reason I chose an ISP other then AOL all those years ago was specifically a "free" Internet.

The fact that an ISP has a competing product and is trying to eliminate access to their competition through their network makes perfect sense to me. I don't like it. I don't expect their customers to like it, but it is not inherently wrong to do so.

The only reason more ISP's are not doing so is simply that not too many of them actually have products in competition and most would and should be afraid of the backlash.

Eventually government controls of some kind are going to have to be setup or this could spread much further. Imagine if a behemoth of a company acquired an ISP and made sure that it's customers could access the competition?

I think Big Pond has started the ball rolling on what is likely going to be a very heated and passionate debate about just what is and should be our rights accessing the Internet, especially since the Internet has now become as important if not more then owning a car.

Re:Not surprised (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745726)

Telstra is currently a government supported monopoly. They report huge profits then excuse them that they can't afford to provide a suitable service to rural Australians because it would be too expensive. The status quo continues. (They monopoly is being broken, just very slowly.)

Telstra Bigpond Office (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745356)

Yeah, it isn't nice that they stopped unmetered downloads of OO.o, but it is their right. But what the hell is Telstra doing offering an office suite for? What the! They can't even organise their communication services properly! And that is their core business!

Having just checked it out, Google Documents is its competitor, not OO.o; a technicality admittedly. Telstra will gyp you somehow (probably on the download/upload). Please have some common sense and not use this! If you thought Microsoft was bad, Telstra is exponentially worse! They just don't affect as many people.

Their blurb [bigpondoffice.com.au] reads "

BigPond® Office lets you create, edit and share word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents from anywhere you can use the Internet, any time. Simply login and start working. BigPond Office is BigPond's alternative office suite. And best of all, it's all free* for most BigPond members.

* Use of BigPond Office is unmetered for most BigPond Broadband Members. Download/browsing charges may apply for other customers

Has anyone else ever heard of it previously? I'm an Australian and I certainly haven't. If you are an Australian and still with Telstra, do yourself a favour and check out the competition. I'm with Supernerd for $50 a month unlimited. Very happy. (It is a bit slow at 512bps, but I can't afford anything better.)

Bunch of Kangaroos! (0, Troll)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745450)

What a bunch of kangaroos!

What's up with these people? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745480)

Metered bandwidth for consumer accounts is a pretty sad concept in today's market. In any part of the world.

WTF is wrong with Australia? (2, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745578)

Seriously. They seem to be the MOST "anti-consumer-rights" of the so-called "Western" countries. It's just bizarre. Is Australia really a police state? Because that's what it seems like, honestly.

Re:WTF is wrong with Australia? (2, Funny)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21745718)

Well, prison state, any way =)
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