'Grandfathering' no more and interleaving mandatory for Xtra customers

No more 192kbit/s upload speed despite earlier offers to allow customers to keep it

Xtra customers on older DSL plans, which feature 192kbit/s upstream speeds, who hoped to stay on these plans — rather than moving to slower 128kbit/s alternative — have had their hopes quashed by Telecom. The telco has sent out a letter saying they will be migrated to new plans no matter what.

By November 2, the older 192kbit/s plans will no longer be available, Telecom writes. Customers on such plans will be switched over to the closest equivalent plan between October 26 and November 2. An example of this, seen by Computerworld, involves an Xtra Jetstream Everyday customer who is being switched to the new Broadband Go plan.

This new plan has the same data limit, 1GB per month, but features a slower upstream speed of 128kbit/s. However, it is $5 (per month) cheaper. Furthermore, customers will enjoy no download speed restrictions up to the technical limitations imposed by ADSL and the slow upstream connection.

Xtra spokeswoman Lenska Papich says most of its customers mainly use their broadband connections for download purposes. Xtra designed its new broadband plans with this in mind, says Papich says. They feature maximum downstream plans across the board, although they are limited by varying upload speeds.

Realistically, Papich says, the small number of customers who move from a 192kbit/s plan to a 128kbit/s plan shouldn't notice much of a difference in performance. However, Papich says the increase in download performance will be more pronounced.

For users who want better upstream speeds as well, Papich says Xtra has four new plans that are unconstrained in both directions. She points to the new Go Express plan that costs $49.95 as an example.

Papich also confirmed that Xtra won't allow its customers to switch off DSL interleaving on their connections. Interleaving is an error-correction method that improves marginal DSL connections, but at the cost of added latency or time-delay in sending and receiving internet protocol data packets. Gamers and users of timing-sensitive applications like Voice over IP have long asked for interleaving to be made optional on Telecom DSL, so as to improve service quality.

The Commerce Commission says, in its determination regarding iHug and Callplus' applications, for Regulated Unbundled Bitstream Service (RUBS), that interleaving is to be optional and at customers' discretion. Telecom has implemented this for its CUBS service, which it provides to its wholesale partners.

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