With Telstra's fibre to the node plans practically cancelled for now, attention has turned to the ADSL2+ technology the company has been deploying since January 2005. ADSL2+ allows speeds of up to 24Mbps and along with uncapped ADSL1 (up to 8Mbps) is being sold by an increasing number of Telstra's rivals. Telstra limits the ADSL broadband it sells to its own wholesale and retail customers to 1.5Mbps.
"Let me put it this way. We have the capacity. We have DSL2+ in place," Telstra's chief operations officer Greg Winn told journalists in Melbourne yesterday in response to a question from ZDNet Australia.
"We don't have it turned on, for all the obvious reasons, and I'm not going to go there," he continued. "But from a network technology standpoint, if any of our competitors can do it, do you think we can't?"
Back in March 2005, Telstra's then managing director, data and online, Andrew Johnson said nearly all of Telstra's ADSL-enabled exchanges would have ADSL2+ capabilities by mid-2006.
Johnson said the then AU$210 million upgrade had been under way since January 2005. "By mid 2005, 200 exchanges covering about 500,000 premises will have ADSL2+ capability at a cost of AU$60 million," Johnson said.
"We have budgeted a further AU$150 million in financial year 05/06 for the purchase and installation of ADSL2+ technology and coverage will rapidly increase so that by mid-2006 nearly all ADSL-enabled exchanges will have ADSL2+ capability."
At the time Johnson said ADSL2+ technology would also be available to Telstra wholesale customers.
However, since that time Telstra has undergone a complete management reshuffle that has seen the company's direction change dramatically under the leadership of chief executive officer Sol Trujillo.
Winn declined to reveal the exact extent of Telstra's ADSL2+ capability. "But we have a substantial footprint," he said.
The Telstra executive said his company would respond in the marketplace to rivals' offerings.
"We're not afraid of anybody. We will compete in the marketplace. We're going to compete on broadband and we're going to compete on mobiles. We're a formidable competitor, mark my words on that one," he said.
Winn's comments came at the unveiling of the telco's new AU$50 million Integration Laboratory in the Victorian capital.
The facility will test much of the new technology forming the heart of the telco's next-generation network announced last November. For example, the DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs) needed to deliver ADSL services were on display.
Vendors Alcatel, Cisco, Juniper, Tellabs and Ericsson have all allocated staff and equipment to the laboratory to assist with the integration process.
Renai LeMay travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Telstra.