Telstra answers ADSL demand with new customer register

Potential broadband users currently unable to access ADSL in their neighbourhood can now take on a more active role in getting their local exchange enabled for the service, thanks to Telstra’s new online demand register.

The new service allows potential broadband customers of either Telstra BigPond’s retail arm or ISPs utilising Telstra’s wholesale broadband network to register their request for ADSL services to be introduced at their local exchange via an online interface.

An exchange will become eligible for ADSL connectivity once it has reached the required “trigger”, or number of customers requests. Although the trigger figure will depend on the size and scope of each individual exchange, the majority are expected to have a customer request requirement of 150.

According to Telstra broadband group managing director Bruce Akehurst, those consumers who have chosen to register their interest in getting ADSL will be contacted once their exchange has met the required trigger target and asked if they are still interested in signing up for an ADSL service. Those who use the demand register are not obliged to sign up, he said.

Telstra’s demand register model has been based on a similar system used by British Telecom to gauge the level of demand for broadband services across the UK. Approximately 3000 exchanges are now listed on the BT site, with more than 900 exchanges already having reached their demand trigger. Of these, 580 have already been enabled for ADSL, while the balance are in the process of being enabled, Telstra Wholesale data business development general manager Denis Mullane reported.

Akehurst said the business case for Telstra to enable its exchanges for ADSL will be made through the level of interest generated by the demand register.

“If the demand is there and customers want the service, we’ll roll it out,” he said. “There’s no ceiling or limit on the numbers on this.”

As of yesterday, potential broadband customers can request ADSL services to be enabled across 160 exchanges throughout Australia via the online demand register. Other exchanges which have not yet had a trigger interest level set but which receive over 60 requests through the register will also be considered for ADSL, Mullane said.

Akehurst added the register would also stimulate further interest in broadband technology by encouraging communities to create campaigns to drive request numbers for their local exchange.

Alongside the launch of its demand register, Telstra announced it has now enabled 1000 of its 4000 exchanges across Australia with ADSL. The latest was the suburb of Warner, 20km outside of Brisbane, Queensland, a couple of weeks ago, Mullane said. Already 50 customers have been connected to ADSL in Warner out of a possible 1500 lines in the area, he said.

Mullane said some 30 exchanges nationwide were on the list for ADSL. The location of future roll-outs of the technology will now be determined by the demand register, he said.

The demand register can be found at: http://www.telstra.com.au/demand/index.cfm

Agile takes broadband to rural towns

Although Telstra will require at least 60 customer requests to ensure the economic viability of enabling an exchange, South Australian carrier Agile Communications is claiming it can cost-effectively provide broadband services to a rural customer base of as little as 20 users.

The statement comes on the back of the ISP’s announcement of its first deployment of a non-Telstra commercial broadband service to the small South Australian rural town of Meningie.

Agile managing director Simon Hackett said the ADSL service in Meningie will give customers access to up to 1.5Mbps data download speeds initially, although the ISP hopes to eventually provide its customers with download speeds of up to 3.5Mbps.

Hackett said Agile is able to provide a more economical deployment of DSL services into the area than Telstra because of its equipment. Instead of enlisting ATM-based ADSL infrastructure such as that used by Telstra in its exchanges, Agile employs compact IP-based DSLAMs which are designed to service a smaller number of users, he said.

“In small towns [of 500 to 900 people] it is a disadvantage to put in bigger gear, such as that used by Telstra,” he said.

Instead, Agile’s strategy will be to install smaller boxes, which can be stacked up if demand increases.

“[Our technology] is smaller and more efficient. There’s no magic going on,” Hackett said.

“We’re filling a niche market that they [Telstra] are not likely to be in for years.”

The Agile wholesale DSL service is being offered to Meningie residents through its retail partner Internode. Hackett said two customers had been signed up to the ADSL service in Meningie so far and anticipated the figure will extend to 20 out of a population of 900 people.

“But I’m hopeful we can double that,” he said.

Hackett said Agile picked Meningie as its first location for its DSL service because the town is situated in the Coorong region, an area which Agile initially connected with its own IP telephony network under the 2001 Coorong Project. Choosing Meningie allowed the ISP to not only install its own DSL hardware, but also to transfer data back to Adelaide using its own back haul infrastructure, he said.

The roll-out of broadband in Meningie is the first of several planned by Agile for remote and rural areas. As well as providing broadband to other towns located in the Coorong region, Hackett said the next step for Agile will be to extend its DSL service into Adelaide CBD.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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