Telecom sticks to its bitstream plan

Telco promises faster downloads - one day - but commission stays mum

The talks between the Commerce Commission and Telecom over the shape of the Unbundled Bitstream Service have produced results as well as further questions.

To placate the commission, Telecom has shown its UBS hand, saying that it will offer DSL plans with faster download speeds. However, the commission is still not revealing the exact details of the service its regulations require.

The commission’s description of the regulated service only mentions a maximum “throughput speed” of 128kbit/s upstream, with the downstream required to have throughput of no less than 32kbit/s and an average of not less than 256kbit/s. This service comes into force on September 2.

On the other hand, its temporary suspension now over, Telecom’s commercial UBS will be launched on September 29, offering 256kbit/s download and 128kbit/s upstream speeds as originally planned.

Telecom’s general manager of government and industry relations, Bruce Parkes, says that the 256/128 plan was always intended as the precursor to future offerings. The telco is now promising a 512kbit/s service in March next year, 1Mbit/s in May and 2Mbit/s to follow at some other time. But the upload speed stays a low 128kbit/s and Parkes did not elaborate on other service parameters such as latency and data volumes.

Proclaiming Telecom’s UBS as a “commercial offering that stands on its own two feet”, Parkes adds that it is a key part of the telco’s goal of 250,000 broadband customers at the end of 2005.

As for the commission's UBS, Parkes says the regulated service can only be fully determined once the commission has completed a full regulatory hearing and heard submissions and evidence from interested parties.

The commission has given no indication as to when such a hearing will take place, but nevertheless says its regulated service will come into force on September 2 under the Telecommunications Act 2001.

Telecommunications Commissioner Douglas Webb says that Telecom clarifying its service will enable ISPs to make informed choices about the telco’s offering. Webb believes the clarification maintains the option to seek access to regulated UBS.

However, at the same time, the commission quotes Section 22 of the Telecommunications Act 2001 which states that access seekers who have signed up for Telecom’s UBS cannot seek a determination for the service.

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