ARN

Eftel: 50Mbs broadband coming soon, ADSL2+ even sooner

Eftel is hoping to roll out its super fast VDLS2 broadband service as early as April

Eftel will be able to offer customers average down and upload speeds of 50Mbs through its new super fast VDSL2 broadband service as early as April, provided the necessary regulatory requirements are handled quickly.

The service is part of its BroadbandNext platform which was launched last November.

When it goes live, the company says it will be the first in Australia offering Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2 services. VDSL2 has theoretical speeds of 100Mbps downstream/upstream to businesses and homes in close proximity to an exchange

"The maximum speed in the real world is 50Mbps," said Eftel general manager John Lane. "We'll probably get three times faster than the best ADSL2+ real world figures," he added. VDSL2 is already offered in the US and Europe.

Lane said the service, which will be offered to retail customers under the Eftel Corporate and aaNet brand names, cannot be launched until the necessary hardware equipment is certified.

In December, the Communications Alliance unveiled draft standards for the customer equipment required for VDSL2. The standards ensure suppliers can provide equipment, such as modems, that will be compatible with the new services. The period for public comment closed this Monday and it is believed a report will be completed by the Communications Alliance within 30-60 days, and will be then passed onto the ACMA to cast an eye over it before giving the final tick of approval.

When that happens, Lane said Eftel will be ready to flick the live switch on the service.

He said anybody can get a benefit out of VDSL2 if they are within 1km from the exchange, but the real "excitement" is for those within half a kilometre from the exchange. "Then you can really get fast speeds," he said.

"What you will find is it will really have an impact in an area where you've got an exchange where you have got a light industrial or commercial area nearby because a lot of business will be within half a km of the exchange and they will get a low cost but very high speed broadband solution. In the past they would have to have got fibre which is quite expensive. So it is going to be an exciting SME solution where the exchange is close to business districts.

Page Break

ADSL2+ coming sooner

However, Eftel is expected to roll out ADSL2+ services much sooner. Its BroadbandNext project centres around hardware equipment known as Multi-Services Access Node (MSAN) from its partner Huawei Technologies.

In addition to VDSL2, the MSANs can also deliver ADSL2+, traditional ADSL, IP Video and VoIP services.

So far Eftel has enabled 70 exchanges with the new equipment in Hobart, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with an additional 15 exchanges fitted every month. "We hope we can get to 300; that will cover 90 per cent of the population," said Lane.

According to Lane, Eftel has 140,000 active accounts in its retail products. Of those less than 50,000 are on traditional ADSL and the remainder on dial up. The plan is to migrate many over to the faster services.

Meanwhile, Eftel's BroadbandNext project got a fillip last week when it was awarded an interim determination for cost relief from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regarding its Line Sharing Service access dispute with Telstra.

Because BroadbandNext relies on the copper network, it needs access to Telstra's exchanges to install its MSANs. After lobbying the ACCC, Eftel is only required to pay $2.50 per line connection as opposed to Telstra's fee of $9. It joins a number of ISPs who have also successfully taken issue with Telstra to the ACCC over LSS.

Eftel having to pay $2.50 makes a lot more business sense, said Lane.

"At $9 the project still works. We are a public company; we don't do rash things. So it will be imprudent to rely necessarily upon ACCC decisions. But at $2.50 it makes the project really attractive to us and shareholders," he said.