Questions raised over broadband access, cost
By DOMINIC FEAIN
LOCAL computer industry experts are sceptical about the affordability of the new high-speed broadband roll-out announced by Telstra last week.
“Australia already has one of the slowest broadband networks in the world, and I doubt this upgrade will be cost-effective without true competition,” said Lismore communication technician Damian Roy.
“As far as I’m aware the technology will only be available through Telstra and Soul, but it will be very limited competition as they are in bed together,” he said.
“I specialise in VOIP (voice over the Internet protocol) which involves high-speed data transfer and requires a wide bandwidth but unless there is real competition the average user won’t be able to afford it.”
Telstra has been holding back the ADSL2+ technology, waiting for assurances from the Federal Government that it won’t have to share the service with its competitors.
Last week Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave Telstra assurances there would be no mandated wholesale access to its ADSL2+ service.
A spokeswoman for Telstra, Sue Passmore, said more homes and businesses on the Northern Rivers would soon have access to the high-speed broadband following its activation at 900 telephone exchanges around the country.
“This is an important step forward for telecommunications in the Northern Rivers region,” she said.
“For the first time families and businesses in areas like Goonellabah, Casino and Ballina will get access to much higher broadband speeds – opening up new opportunities for health, education, productivity improvements and entertainment.”
Byron Bay website developer Darren McCoy was dubious.
“Broadband on the Northern Rivers is an absolute joke,” he said. “Telstra won’t put any more ADSL connections into the Byron Bay Arts and Industrial Estate which is crippling the growth of industry.”