Pair-gain systems on the Telstra network have significantly prevented ADSL broadband access and should be scrapped, a Senate report has recommended.
The Senate Telecommunications Inquiry Report, released on Thursday, gave 19 recommendations for the future of Australian telecommunications services. Several targeted Telstra's performance, with pair-gain identified as a "significant impediment" to dial-up and broadband Internet.
The report recommended that Telstra "remove from its network as soon as practicable all pair-gain systems which do not support broadband services or which restrict dial-up connection speeds".
Pair-gain is used by Telstra to provide multiple phone services on a pair of its copper wires. This splits the frequencies on the pair and lets Telstra service more customers, rather than lay more cable (at a higher cost). However, the result is often reduced speed and services, one of which is ADSL.
Though dial-up Internet can be used on a pair-gain system, some of these systems limit speeds to 7.2Kbps or 26.4Kbps, the report said.
However, the manager of the BigPond Network Capability, Dennis Mullane, told the Committee last year: "The main issue is that the broad delivery of service is not really impacted".
The report also found that some Telstra customers had not been told they were using pair-gain systems. This had affected their plans to upgrade to ADSL.
Some customers had ordered a second phone connection, to act as a dedicated Internet line, but had still not been informed this was pair-gain -- this left them with "the same inadequate or vulnerable service which they were hoping to avoid by having a second line connected," the report said.
The report recommends that consumers have the legal right to access information on whether their services are provided via pair-gain, and which services can be provided as a result.
"These systems should be phased out as soon as possible," the report said.
The report is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/ecita_ctte/tele_network/report/index.htm