ACMA approves 2.5Mbps upload speeds, Internode leads the way

Internode is the first ISP to take advantage of the new ACMA code permitting 2.5Mbps upload speeds

Internode's push to increase broadband upload speeds by more than double has finally been registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). And in the process it becomes the first ISP offering upload speeds at 2.5Mbps.

The ISP has been working with the Communications Alliance, formerly the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF), since the beginning of the year to get the new code and standard - officially known as ACIF C559:2006 Unconditioned Local Loop Service (ULLS) Network Deployment Rules, and unofficially referred to as Annex M - approved.

However, due to increased licensing fees for use of compatible line protocols, Internode at this point in time has chosen to restrict the enhanced upstream speeds, which it offers at no extra cost, to its Business and SOHO ADSL2+ customers.

Until now the issue for service providers seeking to push from the current 1Mbps-peak upload speed towards higher upload speeds was the increased interference caused. The new code is intended to minimise the risk of interference between systems using separate ULLSs and to ensure network integrity.

The project manager for the code, the Communications Alliance's James Duck, said that when a copper line goes out into the street it joins a whole bunch of cables going into the exchange. These cables are coupled and then meshed in with more cables and modems. Copper lines sitting side-by-side can cause issues.

"The nature of physics means you can induce a signal from one pair to another," he said.

However, with the new code, new software configurations and/or firmware updates installed into the existing DSLAMs at exchanges, coupled with the newer ADSL2+ modems on the customers premise, will be enough to operate at the higher speed without interference.

Prior to the code, Duck said it was akin to having a group conversation and then having somebody shout in your ear, distracting you from the conversation at hand.

Business boost

Internode's opening of Annex M comes after a successful trial of the technology in July this year.

However, the cost of licensing the correct line protocols was not a trivial matter, according to the company's carrier relations manager, John Lindsay.

"Annex M considerably increases the capacity of our back channel [the capacity its network can hold] which is why we are not offering it to residential customers."

The decision to deny residential users was based on the fact that peer-to-peer file sharing networks are heavily dependent on the performance of back channel capacity. Boosting upstream speeds for heavy peer-to-peer users would incur unsustainable costs on the ISP, Lindsay said.

"By introducing Annex M we have finally brought true broadband to Australia," said Lindsay. "If the rest of the industry matches what we are offering, the broadband landscape will be a much healthier place."

Business users who wish to take advantage of the service will need to purchase an Annex M compatible Modem for about $300.

(Howard Dahdah contributed to this article.)