The second phase of Telecom’s ADSL trial is under way in a Wellington suburb with 100 customers signed up in the first 10 days.
“We’re only looking for 300 customers for the scheme, so we’re well ahead of schedule,” says Telecom spokesman Quentin Bright.
ADSL technology makes use of existing Telecom phone lines but can provide access to the Internet at speeds of around 640Kbit/s, more than 10 times the speed of current dial-up modems.
ADSL limits the bandwidth required by providing faster speeds for data travelling to the user than data being sent from the user. The rationale for this is that users generally import far more information than they export, and so don’t need the extra speed for sending out data.
Alcatel product manager Gijs van Kersen expects to see ADSL commercially available in New Zealand by the end of the year. Alcatel claims 40% of the world’s orders for ADSL technology. However, US analysts don’t expect ADSL to be available there until at least the turn of the century.
“You need a device called a splitter to plug both your phone and your PC into, and a modem capable of handling ADSL,” says Kersen.
He believes the ease of connection coupled with the fact that one phone line can carry voice and data at the same time will drive the adoption rate of ADSL among teleworkers and home office users.
“Consumers would have access to fast Internet surfing, and employees could work from home. Companies could use it to link multiple sites, like bank branches.”
Other DSL technologies should be available in the near future, says Kersen, such as SDSL, a symmetric version, and CDML, a lower-cost, lower-speed version of ADSL aimed at the consumer market.
Top of the range is VDSL. “That promises to offer bandwidth of up to 50Mbit/s.” Such speeds are only attainable over a very short cable, up to 800m, and would require a more extensive fibre-optic network to be viable.
“You would need a fibre connection into your street with VDSL from there to your house.” Kersen says VDSL is being developed now and would be part of any fibre cable expansion programme.
Telecom’s trial has three levels of access available. After paying a connection fee of $80, customers can choose either Internet access only, at a cost of $69 a month, or both Internet access and the First Choice TV (movies, cartoons) package for $75 a month. A third option has no installation fee and offers First Choice only for $14.99 per month.
The trial is expected to last six months.