Telecommunications giant, Telstra, in the face of growing criticism over the quality and reach of its broadband service, claims to have come up with a strategy to enable broadband connectivity outside of Australia’s major urban centres.
It has long been criticised for being too slow in rolling out ADSL connectivity to areas outside of central business districts. Many exchanges in suburban and regional areas are not ADSL enabled, despite repeated calls from the relevant communities.
In response, Telstra launched a demand register in October a website that allows residents currently living in areas beyond the reach of its ADSL-equipped exchanges to register their interest in broadband technology. This enables Telstra to only extend its services to areas where it can be sure to gain significant business. It may also provide Telstra’s dealer partners (such as small regional ISPs) with a new revenue stream if the demand register convinces the telco to enable broadband connectivity in their local area.
Last week, Telstra announced the first exchange to be ADSL-enabled as a direct result of the demand register. The carrier said it would ADSL-enable the local telephone exchange in the South Australian community of Loxton, after residents and businesses in the town swamped the register with 150 requests.
Telstra was now calling on its 190 wholesale ISP partners to encourage their local communities to use the register. The telecommunications giant has written to all of its channel partners requesting that they take part in the scheme.
“We encourage ADSL Internet Service Providers to join the scheme, as people in the community must first confirm their interest via their preferred ISP,?” Telstra Wholesale group managing director, Bruce Ackhurst, said.
More than 7600 people have registered on the demand register since October, but Loxton will be the first to realise the benefits of the service once it is available in May.
A Telstra spokesperson confirmed that in the case of Loxton, 150 members of the local population registered, but not through a local Telstra dealer.
He said 150 people should not be seen as the benchmark for how many people need to register before Telstra will equip the local exchange.
“Telstra just has to see a business case – there are significant expenses incurred when putting the technology in,” he said.
The company claims that similar community campaigns in the UK have seen more than 500 telephone exchanges enabled with ADSL technology.
The demand register is available at www.telstra.com.au/demand.