TelstraClear unimpressed by Telecom's wholesale promises

Telecom will offer its new DSL products to competitors at wholesale rates and plans to introduce a new wholesale environment in the middle of the year whether the government forces it to or not.

Telecom will offer its new DSL products to competitors at wholesale rates and plans to introduce a new wholesale environment in the middle of the year whether the government forces it to or not.

However Telecom will be deciding which offerings it brings out, and consequently offers for wholesale, says Bruce Parkes, Telecom's manager for government relations.

Telecom this week launched a new DSL suite consisting of three products all running at 256Kbit/s download and 128 Kbit/s upload speeds. The first two offerings are capped at 1GB a month and 3GB a month, with excess traffic billed at 5 cents per megabyte instead of Telecom's usual 20 cents per megabyte. The third offering is capped at 10 GB a month but throttles the connection speed beyond that, rather than charging the user extra.

Parkes says Telecom is already offering these services to other ISPs at a discount rate.

"We've said that if we change our retail products, that will flow straight through to what we offer at a wholesale level. So that covers the new services we're offering and there'll be no mucking around about going to the [telecommunications] commissioner and adding that service and that kind of thing."

In addition, Telecom will offer a wholesale DSL service based on the retail plans outlined by the Telecommunications Commission in its final report on unbundling.

"It'll be based on those plans, so it'll be a 256Kbit/s [download] 128Kbit/s [upload] service. The principle we've adopted is whatever our product retail offering looks like we'll offer that as a wholesale service."

TelstraClear chief executive Rosemary Howard says she fails to understand the distinction between the two.

"Those are resale services, not wholesale".

Howard says without the ability to go to Telecom and ask for a service at a specific level all that's on offer is the ability to sell Telecom's product on behalf of Telecom.

TelstraClear has made a submission to the Minister of Communications, Paul Swain, on this matter seeking clarification of the service on offer in the commission's final report.

"It should be made clear that this is a 'Layer 2' access service and not a resale service. There is already regulated access to resell Telecom’s 'JetStream' services. The commission’s definition of the new designated 'internet grade ADSL bitstream' should clearly distinguish how this new service is different from the existing wholesale services".

Access to layer two switching would allow TelstraClear and other competitors to control the quality of service of the connection. Without access at that level, the control lies with Telecom.

Parkes says Telecom wouldn't rule out negotiating with an ISP to offer the service levels they would like to sell but that Telecom's current thinking "is not focused on that" approach.

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