TelstraClear tests 100Mbit/s in Wellington

Move comes in attempt to put off overbuilding

TelstraClear will trial a 100Mbit/s broadband service in Wellington next week and step up its efforts to persuade the Government that it would be wasting taxpayers' money overbuilding its cable networks in Wellington and Christchurch with fibre-optic cable. Chief executive Allan Freeth said it would invite about half-a-dozen people to test the service, which will provide download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbit/s, hoping that would generate debate about the uses of ultrafast broadband. Depending on demand, TelstraClear could launch that as a commercial service by June, he said. The 100Mbit/s trial was intended to send a message to both the Government and Crown Fibre Holdings that their aspirations had been achieved here, he said. It will coincide with a billboard campaign that claims Communications Minister Steven Joyce can "put his feet up" as ultrafast broadband is already coming to the capital. The Government has proposed investing $1.35 billion in a fibre-to-the-home UFB network that would provide minimum download speeds of 100Mbit/s and upload speeds of 50Mbit/s. Dr Freeth said overbuilding TelstraClear's HFC networks would be "an irrational economic move". "We have a very popular triple-play service which we are continually upgrading. But people seem to develop philosophy-driven perspectives and may just believe they have to have [fibre-to-the-home] everywhere, in which case that has some pretty serious consequences for us and we will compete ferociously in the market." A Crown Fibre spokesman said Wellington and Christchurch were included in the UFB scheme. "TelstraClear's decisions or comments related to UFB are theirs to make." TelstraClear was genuinely interested in testing demand for a 100Mbps service, Dr Freeth said. In addition to the trial, the company would invite people to join an online debate. "It truly is of interest to us and the network guys to say `just how is this going to be used out there?"'

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