Telecom promises 24Mbit/s by year's end

But rivals can't use Telecom's roadside cabinets because they're already full

Senior Telecom executive Mark Ratcliffe is promising home users a faster residential broadband service of at least 24Mbit/s by the end of this year.

But it will only operate “in some places” — where there is a sufficient demand to make it pay, he says.

“We don’t have a cheque book big enough to make [such a service] ubiquitous,” says Ratcliffe. But he points to recent massive increases in the capacity of ADSL technology as meaning such a possibility should not be ruled out for the future.

However, he hesitated over a Computerworld question as to whether room would be made for competitors’ equipment in roadside cabinets. He assured us that eventually Telecom would have to make such accommodation, but for now “there’s no room in the ones we have out there”.

Addressing a meeting of the New Zealand Computer Society last week, Ratcliffe also promised Telecom would launch a residential voice-over-IP service within the next nine months.

“Other people are cannibalising our conventional voice revenue, so we may as well do it ourselves,” he says.

Ratcliffe, whose title is chief operating officer for technology and enterprises, is effectively responsible for the organisation’s data strategy and is part of the leadership team whose job is to decide Telecom’s future direction in the new regulatory environment, as well as its plans for a pure IP network.

In the new unbundled environment, Ratcliffe, like CEO Theresa Gattung, is committed to an impartial, non-obstructive attitude and to allowing services to be resold by competitors on the Telecom network.

“We don’t have lots of lawyers working out how to get round [the strictures of the new environment],” he says.

Instead, Telecom is equipping staff with the skills to deal positively with its wholesale customers.

In the medium-term, Telecom will move into application-service provision (ASP), as well as the provision of video entertainment over the IP network, says Ratcliffe. Although he says he is uncertain when the former, in particular, might be practicable.

ASP, the provision of applications through the network from a remote server is “a key part of the future” in a country with so much of its economy dependent on geographically scattered small- to medium-sized businesses, says Ratcliffe.

“We will be trying to find a way of providing such services over our network.”

He answered criticisms about patchy IP services to business by acknowledging that the service is less than adequate and will be improved. One critic in the audience said the consequences of an interruption to IP services are more serious for a business than was an interruption to the old digital data service (DDS).

In answer to another challenge from the audience, Ratcliffe said the rollout of VoIP and ASP would not suffer from restrictive data caps, contention ratios or a 128kbit/s upstream limit.

“We’re smart enough to realise that won’t work.

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