High-speed broadband gets green light

Australia's peak communications industry body has cleared the way for the launch of broadband services several times quicker than existing ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) offerings.The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) today released new rules governing the deployment of ADSL2 and ADSL2+ services, which deliver data at rates capable of supporting next-generation services such as interactive video, broadcast-quality television and videoconferencing.

Australia's peak communications industry body has cleared the way for the launch of broadband services several times quicker than existing ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) offerings.

The Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) today released new rules governing the deployment of ADSL2 and ADSL2+ services, which deliver data at rates capable of supporting next-generation services such as interactive video, broadcast-quality television and videoconferencing.

Finalisation of the standards -- which await only registration by the Australian Communications Authority before they become enforceable -- clears a major hurdle for deployment of new-generation DSL services. Several carriers are gearing up to offer ADSL2 or ADSL2+, including Telstra, which plans to upgrade nearly all its exchanges by mid-2006 under an AU$210 million program. Primus Telecom Australia and Internode are among others to have flagged intentions to invest in ADSL2/ADSL2+ equipment.

ADSL services typically operate at a maximum speed of 1.5 megabits per second (mbps), supporting e-mail, Web access, voice over Internet Protocol and some multimedia applications. ADSL2 delivers speeds of up to 12 mbps and ADSL2+ 24 mbps.

The ACIF rules -- included in a revised code and new technical standard -- also cover the launch of Extended-rate Single-pair High-speed DSL (ESHDSL) -- a technology used mainly for corporate broadband applications. ESHDSL operates at rates of up to 5 mbps.

ACIF chief executive officer, Anne Hurley, said next-generation DSL's capacity to carry data many times faster than existing services -- over greater distances -- created "complex technical issues relaing to interference and equipment interoperability".

The ACIF code tries to address these issues by specifying technical requirements and addressing the management of interference on copper telephone lines. This will, the ACIF said, allow service providers to maximise the number and quality of services they can offer their customers.

"Anyone who has experienced a crossed line on a phone call will appreciate the importance of reducing interference between services," Hurley said in a statement. "In a digital broadband environment there is an even greater need for interference management because of the changing nature of digital signals at different distances from the exchange and at different frequencies and signal levels.

"The challenge is to optimise network performance so that everyone gets the best possible service.

"After all, there's no much point delivering five video channels to the people living next door to the exchange if everyone down the road can't even have reliable Internet access".

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