Telstra retreats from Second Life

bigpond-secondlife-november2009-smlAs reported today in the mainstream press, Telstra have announced their retreat from involvement with Second Life.

As the Australian business with the largest investment in Second Life by far, Telstra’s withdrawal potentially has a large impact on the local case for involvement of business in virtual worlds. More importantly, there are many hundreds of BigPond regulars who are affected by the decision. Paying residents on the BigPond sims received the following notecard on the issue:

Dear Residents, Vendors and Guests,

Telstra BigPond would like to thank you for participating in Second Life through BigPond. Our creative experience with Second Life has been very rewarding for both BigPond and our members. We’re constantly looking for ways to take advantage of the latest social media trends, however, our focus is moving towards entertainment options that are gaining in popularity on computers, mobile phones, TVs and game consoles.

From December 16 you will still be able to continue your Second Life experience directly through Linden Lab at but no longer through the BigPond portal.

This will also mean that all Second Life use will go towards your download limits given that the BigPond islands currently unmetered for BigPond customers are closing. Please note that this may put you over your plan download limit sooner than you were expecting.

Please contact our in-world Social Operations Manager Peta Philbin if you have further questions and she will provide information and/or BigPond Support personnel to assist you.

Again, we hope that you continue to enjoy your Second Life experience and keep checking back at for other exciting BigPond services.


The BigPond Team

Is the announcement a surprise? Not really – Telstra’s been increasingly lukewarm over recent months in regards to continued development of new activities / events on the sims. That said, the community that’s been built by BigPond customers on the sims has never wavered and there’s plenty of them angry at the decision. The common theme from discussions with residents today revolved around the theme of only having entered Second Life initially because of the unmetered status for Second Life usage (on BigPond sims), and the subsequent meeting up with people that they otherwise would never have met.

Obviously Telstra don’t need a presence for that to occur, but they certainly created a financial and aesthetic environment that maximised the potential for new users’ involvement. It’s been one of the more notable examples worldwide of a successful collaboration between a business and its customers, with examples everywhere of that relationship:


The biggest challenge for Telstra is how it portrays its withdrawal in the longer term. It’s likely been a financial decision, and if so it begs the question of how transparent Telstra will be on the outcomes they feel they’ve got from being in Second Life, and whether they’ll make further forays in the future. We touched base with Peta Philbin, who is the ‘Pond Estates Social Operations Manager’, but she wasn’t able to comment at all, referring me to BigPond’s PR contact, Craig Middleton. We’ve sent Craig a series of questions and will post his responses in full as soon as we receive them. There’s also a farewell party planned for 21st November – we’ll publish more details on that as they are announced.

In the meantime, it’s over to you: are you surprised by the announcement or has it been a long-time coming? Will this be a set-back for Second Life in Australia and for business more broadly?


  1. Not surprised! As one of those Bigpond users, I pulled out of Bigpond for my ADSL about 6 weeks ago, I knew it couldn't last, and….I got a better deal from iinet anyway. I pay less for the same usage. shruggs. I feel sorry for the people in contract cause they are really going to be royally screwed now. Bigpond island, was so tied up with all sorts of silly rules and regs that they couldn't promote Australia as well as they could.

    When I visited Bigpond a few years ago, to do a story on it, Peta was not allowed to be on my show as CM wouldn't allow her to speak for Bigpond, even though she was the person “on the ground” A suit was offered to me instead and I refused. The only music they had on the sim at the time was Whispering Jack…..over and over and over…When they did have events they didn't even ask Australian Artists in SL to participate! Im here…Jaggpro is here…Oh My Kidd is here and many others…why not? hey we pull a good crowd! the first Artist to play there was Max Kleen god love him, but he ain't Aussie….

    Telstra are not a global company they serve (and I use that word loosely) only Australia, the population of Aussie residents is very very small, surprisingly small. But with the state of misinformation that most Australians read in their press about SL being a Sex Den, Dying, or Failing and a place for lonely losers is it any wonder! Its like we are on this isolated island with no communication from the Mainland! there is almost a Sadistic Glee in Australia to put down SL and the people who want to use it, a sort of nasty derision about it. That is a very ignorant and short sighted attitude. And like a lot of things.. by the time Australia catches up with the rest of the world, We Aussies will have missed the boat….

    Telstra staying in SL. Is really just not viable until more Aussies use SL. I do think if they are going to support online gaming thru unmetered downloads they could have kept it up for SL, where they know that SL is NOT a game but a community. Full of creativity and enterprise and spirit. The cost to them is a tiny drop in the ocean…Sol took a lot when he left but believe me they have a lot in the coffers! giving (as they said) 2000 users a break on SL with unmetered is really a pathetic amount to withdraw…Come on…Big pond know what SL is! they know its not just about slimy Sex and online Junkies. Bad Bad PR guys…

    As to the SMH story and the comments….people always ridicule that which they are afraid of or don't understand, its a way to cope. Just like the flat earth Society sniggered and derided the round earth society :), and wow its just like whizzing right back to the 80's when I worked for IBM as a casual, and we were sitting around this huge box talking to some IT guys in Abu Dabi via the first Text internet, just text to text…about the cricket it was incredible! and no one thought it would last….um the internet is for Geeks…It will never work. You can't use it….Can't find anything…I don't have time for the internet…when do you ever have time for that?…wow I'm so busy and you obviously are not…heard all that? yep thats what Im hearing now. People say to me, how do you have time for SL???? wellll its my job….jaw drop…and I ask many hours do you watch Telly? ummmm weel…yep I don't watch more than 4 hours telly a week…soooo I create things in SL,,yep I'm not sitting on my bum for 4 hours a night passively sucking in crap! (says she in the TV business 🙂 now who has a Real Life and who does not. Read the comments and that article on SMH what a lot of uninformed tripe! from the journalist and the comments. Gawd. What I do know is one day those people will be like oh yeh SL and virtual worlds, I knew it was always going to be big!
    yeh right. Sorry that sort of journalism on SMH is just lazy and bad. Regurgitating old news from last year.

    And BTW the Bigpond unmetered? I watched my Telstra usage all the time I never went to Big Pond sims, only once every 6 months, and yet I had about half my usage free…..on SL. Get the facts SMH. sorry for the rant. But it makes my blood boil. We need more competition in ISP's My friends and colleagues in the States are paying 49 bucks a month! with no caps…we in Aust cannot even download a TV show or a movie without going over…talk about sooooo behind. Slow speeds and capped we are shafted at every turn.
    Over and OUT.
    The ranter…

  2. I'm not surprised. I expect we'll see a lot more of these as the enterprise population condenses towards collaborative-based tech companies and educational institutions, both of which are utilising SL approaching a fuller potential. As budgets are trimmed during the uncertain economic climate the SL experiment maybe deemed an unnecessary expense.

    Don't be surprised if the ABC makes a similar announcement in the next month or two either.

  3. “moving towards entertainment options that are gaining in popularity on computers, mobile phones, TVs and game consoles”

    Sounds like they are looking for a broader audience. Second Life just can't offer the exposure many companies need to justify spending on social media marketing and brand awareness. I think it's pretty much that simple.

  4. lindaramagic says

    For anyone wanting to join up and help us fight the loss of unmetered a facebook group has been created

  5. lauraanneseabrook says

    What? The Pond will disappear?

  6. irishrebelmom says

    It's like real life dating – you start going out with someone cool, then they find a better “deal” (better looking, more popular, more interests) and they move on to where the “grass is greener”.

    Sometimes when they get there, they find out it's all due to a big stinky pile of fertilizer.

    I really don't think that this will have much impact on Virtual Worlds in whole. I feel badly for the Aussies and their limitations – we had that in the US 10 years ago and that is why we didn't have video and other high bandwidth consuming opportunities.

    All my best! Hope your FB attempt to keep unmetered access works!

  7. Thanks man, just what I was looking for. Worked like a charm Thanks so much…


  1. […] As mentioned yesterday, Telstra have announced their withdrawal from Second Life, and there’s been no shortage of discussion on it around the blogosphere. […]

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