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  1. Optus throws down 5G gauntlet, claims fastest speeds in Australia Optus outguns Telstra in 5G download speed, study suggests (Image credit: DenPhotos/Shutterstock) Telstra definitively laid claim to having the widest-ranging 5G network last month, but now Optus has thrown down a gauntlet of its own by claiming to have the fastest 5G speeds in Australia. A report by telecommunications company Systemics-PAB found that Optus’ average 5G download speed was 22% faster than Telstra’s during independent testing that was conducted across Sydney and Melbourne late last year. While Optus outgunned Telstra in download speed tests, it was found that Telstra was better than Optus when it came to 5G average upload throughputs – though only marginally so with a difference of less than 10%. Following the release of the findings, Optus’ managing director, Matt Williams, released a statement which appears to call out Telstra in all but name. In the blog post, Williams requested “one carrier to formally remove their 5G advertising claiming ‘Australia’s best 5G’”. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” says Williams, “you can’t claim to have Australia’s best 5G network if it’s not the fastest”. He went on to say that, “For Optus, this isn’t about stripping our competitor of their self-declared title – this is about being transparent with the Australian consumer, ensuring that they get access to all the facts”. At the time of writing, Telstra’s website still includes the statement: “Australia’s best 5G. Now covering 50% of Australians.” Who has Australia's best 5G? Australia’s two major telcos are still locked in a back and forth over who has the better 5G network, but perhaps inevitably, the answer to who has the best 5G network in Australia lies in what is most important to you. Telstra’s 5G network is available in more locations than Optus, and after announcing that its network now reaches more than 50% of Australians last month, it has aggressive plans to reach 75% of Australians by the end of June this year. While Systemics-PAB concluded that Telstra has the top 5G network when it comes to coverage, it highlighted that for those wanting top download speeds and the lowest possible latency, Optus is the fastest network available – if it’s available in your area. To check availability in your area, compare Telstra’s 5G coverage map with the Optus 5G network map. Optus throws down 5G gauntlet, claims fastest speeds in Australia
  2. The big telcos don't want their operations disrupted. They want more consultation, and protection for their downstream customers. Australia's two largest telcos, Telstra and Optus, have called for the government to create an efficient consultation process every time it asks for assistance under the nation's proposed new anti-encryption laws. Taken together, the two submissions represent a call for far more clarity in the Assistance and Access Bill 2018, which is currently being rushed through Parliament. The Bill proposes three ways for the government to request or demand assistance in accessing communications from any "designated communications provider". These can be virtually any kind of individual or organisation or individual that manufactures, provides, or maintains any kind of communications equipment or services, or even an "information service". Technical Assistance (TA) Requests, which are described as voluntary requests, but which may be the least constrained; Technical Assistance (TA) Notices, which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to use an interception capability they already have; and Technical Capability (TC) Notices, which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to build a new interception capability, so that it can meet subsequent Technical Assistance Notices. While the two kinds of notices can only be issued if they are "reasonable, proportionate, practicable, and technically feasible", the Bill only specifies a consultation process for the TC Notices. "The decision maker will need to obtain information from the designated communications provider (DCP) about these matters. Accordingly, we believe a consultation process should also be specified for a TA Notice. Further, the 'specified period' in the notice needs to be reasonable and the requirement to consult should expressly allow consultation timeframes to be extended," wrote Telstra in its submission [PDF]. "In setting timeframes, the decision-maker should take account of the DCP's standard development and release cycles, the availability of relevant engineering and technical resources, the impacts on other planned service and network updates, the time required by a DCP to undertake their normal rigorous implementation, integration, and regression and quality testing, etc." Telstra asked for the new law to make it clear that it can't be used to access the content of communications. "The [original] Explanatory Document [PDF] states on a number of occasions the draft Bill is not intended to change the existing mechanisms that agencies use to lawfully access telecommunications content and data for investigations and that the intention is that agencies use existing warrant powers for such access," Telstra writes. These powers exist primarily in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979. As ZDNet has reported, the fact that the TA and TC notices are issued administratively by the requesting agency, not by an independent third party as happens with a warrant, could create a way to access communications without a warrant. If this new legislation isn't meant to allow warrantless access to communications content, then Telstra wants to see that written into the law. Telstra has also called for the legislation to make it clear that a TA Notice may not ask them to develop a technical capability they don't already have; for the format of requested data to "reference appropriate technical standards and/or be agreed with industry"; for the immunity provisions to be extended to any downstream customers who might be involved with or affected by any actions taken; and for a prohibition on DCPs being asked to do anything that would otherwise be a criminal offence. Optus has echoed Telstra's concerns, and the company's submission [PDF] sketches out in more detail the processes they would like to see. Before any Notice or Request is issued, Optus wants "a mandatory consultation step requiring agencies to consult service providers prior to finalising and issuing" the document. A similar mandatory consultation should be part of any variation or revocation. Optus has also called for "further guidance to decision-makers requiring them to have regard to information submitted by a service provider in forming judgements about whether the decision-making criteria of 'reasonable and proportionate' and 'practicable and technically feasible' are met for each type of assistance request or notice". This process should also include a "mandatory requirement" for an "efficient form of contracting". "For example a standard form contract might be mandated or determined to cover key areas, which is then only varied in pre-determined areas to insert a description of the assistance, the agreed cost and payment arrangements, and any relevant special conditions," Optus wrote. The telco said it will need to "stand prepared to initiate significant scoping and compliance programs" in response to this new regime. "Optus already has major commercial, IT, and network programs in flight and which are scheduled for implementation over the next three years. In practical terms, the assistance regime may disrupt these plans," it said. The Assistance and Access Bill 2018 has been referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). The public consultation period is brief. Submissions close on October 12, with public hearings expected to be held on October 19. Source
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