Internode steps cautiously into naked DSL

Internode steps cautiously into naked DSL

Summary: Internode has announced a roadmap for the rollout of naked DSL services -- broadband access without a phone line subscription -- but claims it's being careful to avoid some of the challenges faced by fellow naked provider iiNet.


Internode has announced a roadmap for the rollout of naked DSL services -- broadband access without a phone line subscription -- but claims it's being careful to avoid some of the challenges faced by fellow naked provider iiNet.

Naked DSL connections enable a subscriber to use their copper line for broadband connectivity without paying a carrier, such as Telstra, for line rental. Combined with a Voice-over-IP service, a naked DSL connection has the potential to cut telecommunications costs in the average home or small office.

Fellow ISP iiNet began offering naked DSL plans in November 2007. While the majority of its users have been satisfied, the ISP has struggled to provision some of its most tech-savvy customers without significant delays and downtime.

The iiNet experience, says Internode product manager Jim Kellett, has led Internode to take a far more cautious approach to rolling out naked DSL services of its own.

The only Internode naked DSL plans immediately available are for brand new connections, delivered via the Optus wholesale network.

By April, Internode expects to be able to convert existing users -- such as those already connected to a Telstra DSLAM -- to naked DSL at the same cost as new users.

But it will not be until mid-year that Internode can manage to convert a group of its best customers to naked DSL -- those on ADSL2+ Extreme plans.

The essential problem, said Kellett, is that Telstra are yet to come up with a process that makes it easy to convert a connection that uses spectrum sharing to naked DSL.

Internode's Extreme ADSL2+ plans use spectrum sharing -- with both Telstra's PSTN and Internode's broadband connection sharing the same copper wire.

"This is where iiNet has been getting some bad stick," said Kellett. "We understand from our trials how that could happen and we are doing all we can to avoid that outcome."

Kellett said the problem doesn't affect the vast majority of users who convert to naked DSL -- only those that have spectrum sharing on their existing line.

"Which just so happens to be the heaviest users," he said. "Unfortunately for iiNet, these are the type of customers that will make some noise if there is a problem as they are the people most reliant on broadband."

"Under the hood, [conversion] shouldn't be that hard to do, there just isn't a process in place for it yet," he said. "Until the process is improved, we are concerned that the customer would only end up with downtime."

Kellett expects the problem to be solved by the middle of the year. Internode's spectrum sharing customers will be able to convert to a plan called NakedExtreme, at the same prices Internode is charging for the services it will initially resell via the Optus network.

Internode also offers a VoIP package called NodePhone in conjunction with its broadband connections. Users will, however, have to wait before taking the plunge with Internode if they wish to use their existing phone number on a VoIP service via a naked DSL line: number portability on naked DSL is another technical hitch yet to be ironed out.

While it has been caused by technical barriers, Kellett believes that the gradual rollout of naked DSL is in the best interest of both Internode and its customers.

"It's a way of keeping a lid on demand," he said. "This way, you don't get 50 people on the phone at a time waiting for support."

'Ultra' services still to come
While it has not been publicly announced, Internode also has plans in the pipeline to offer a bundled phone and broadband service that would compete with Optus's Fusion package -- bundling an ADSL2+ service and a standard PSTN phone line without any line rental charges.

Internode's "Ultra" service, as it will be marketed, will be targeted at customers that want to keep their existing phone number on a PSTN line, or for those that require an analog PSTN line for their Foxtel service or fax machine.

It will also be delivered via the Optus wholesale network. Internode has promised that it won't charge for upload fees on any of its naked plans nor its Ultra service.

"We don't charge for it in our normal plans, so we're not charging it in our naked DSL plans either," Kellett said.

Topics: Broadband, Laptops, Telcos, Optus, Telstra, NBN

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  • Naked

    I read that a lot of the problems iiNet had were because Telstra techs (the ones doing the switch over at the exchange) have been moved to NSW to help with the floods, lets hope that by the time Internode do their roll out the floods have gone and techs are back and able to do the work.

    I still find it strange that Telstra can't/wont bring in a process to allow the change to Naked to happen easier - but then that's Telstra for you - they didnt even sign up to their own fast transfer process for fear of losing loads of clients to the likes of iiNet and Internode.

    Seems that Telstra are not making it easy, so much for fair and open competition - and who cops it the most? The people of Australia, the ones who have put a lot of money into the old Telecom.
  • Facts please

    How do you make a physical process quicker, the change over can only happen by having a technician move the copper cable from one device to another. There are only a certain amounts of technicians out there. The fast transfer process can only work when there is no physical chance to the network, when you simply leave bigpond to another isp you can use this process but when you go naked you must have a technician do the work and can not use the fast transfer process.

    The ones who put a lot of money from the old telecom are also the ones who have been reimbursed when telstra was sold off, do you expect free services or special treatment from commbank just because they were once government owned?
  • Some Facts

    In response to 'Facts Please' - it's quite simple. If you are on Spectrum Sharing, then you have a cable from the exchange MDF to (say) an Internode DSLAM, and another cable from the MDF to the Telstra voice switch.
    To convert that SSS to Unbundled Local Loop simply means removing the cable between the MDF and the Telstra voice switch, and increasing the billing from the SSS rate to the ULL rate (this is paid by Internode to Telstra Wholesale).
    Clearly quite a simple process, but unfortunately not a process that Telstra have made available. To clarify - it's not a question of making it quicker - it's a question of making it available at all! The current 'solution' is to cancel the SSS & thereby remove the one copper connection that we wish to retain, then order a new ULL service to get it put back!
    So no, we're not asking for free services or special treatment at all - it's really, under the hood, a very simple thing!
  • "If you are on"

    It is great to make a comment about a selective situation, what this story talks about is the entire process. If Telstra was to create a process document for each of the dozens of these possible scenario then the additional training, documentation and ultimately increased human errors due to the confusion would raise even more complaints. Telstra have obviously chosen to create a process (or a couple) that will work in the most efficient manner for most cases and in some cases it means a couple of additional steps in a small number of cases.

    Being a product manager means you know your product well, not Telstra's. It would be nice to know what percentage of all wholesaled ADSL services use spectrum sharing, not just internode as we all know internode do not like reselling voice so they opt for spectrum sharing where possible.

    Have you even approached Telstra directly with a viable process alternative instead of just complaining about it to them or in this useless forum?
  • Kellett "expects the problem to be solved by the middle of the year.

    Hi Stephen -

    Of course, Internode and other ISPs work with Telstra in resolving these sorts of issues - hence my expectation that was quoted in the article. And also for sure, other 'conversion to ULL' types work fine, so that's great. Was just trying to clarify things!

    There'd be quite a lot of SSS services, my estimate would be around 25% of all ADSL across Australia, including the majority of high speed ADSL2+ services.

    Actually I enjoyed 12 years as an engineer in Telstra, so ..... no you're right this isn't the forum! Cheers.