Telecom prepares for TelstraClear access to UBS

Telco slashes churn fee and offers full DSLAM speed for unbundled bitstream service

Telecom is making changes in anticipation of the Commerce Commission finalising the findings and recommendations in the draft determination on TelstraClear's application for a regulated Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS).

This will be the first regulated wholesale DSL service to come into existence since the amendments to the Telecommunications Act 2001 were made. The current UBS is Telecom's commercial proxy service, based on the Commission's recommendation to the government which favoured access to wholesale DSL for ISPs rather than local loop unbundling like in overseas markets.

The key changes that Telecom is now conveying to its customers include a sharply reduced churn fee of $36.42 plus GST, three set download speeds of 256kbit/s, 1Mbit/s and 2Mbits plus a "full-speed" option which will be as fast as the DSLAM — Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer — in the exchange or roadside cabinet allows. As the upstream speed will remain at a non-broadband 128kbit/s, it is unclear exactly how fast the full-speed option will be. Technicians Computerworldhave spoken to say the maximum download speed in trials with such a slow upstream is 3.5–4Mbit/s, if the connection is not shared with multiple users.

Telecom's wholesale group communications manager, Justin Caswell, says the changes won't affect Telecom's other wholesale DSL offering. This is available to ISPs under the Wholesale Services Agreement (WSA), which is the result of an earlier application for access from TelstraClear. This gives ISPs set discounts of 2–16% for reselling Telecom's services including Jetstream.

Plans with the full-rate speed in both upstream and downstream directions will only be available under the WSA, according to Caswell.

Brett Herkt, general manager of Auckland ISP Maxnet, says the regulatory environment around broadband seems to have become much fairer lately and he finds the latest developments encouraging. However, commenting on the recent changes, Herkt expresses doubts about the low upstream speed being able to support the full-rate downstream channel. He hopes that the Minister of Communications, David Cunliffe, who said in a speech this month that the "video referee will step in midyear", will look closely at UBS' current non-broadband 128kbit/s upstream speed.

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