Telstra will switch on over 200 remote ADSL exchanges after a funding stoush between the government and the telco was resolved.
Communications Minister Helen Coonan announced the switch-on yesterday, saying in a statement: "households and small businesses in more than 200 regional communities across Australia will gain access to ADSL broadband. I welcome Telstra's participation in the Australian Broadband Guarantee."
A number of towns which had previously been unable to access ADSL will be connected for the first time, including over 60 in Victoria and more than 50 in Queensland.
According to Telstra, the exchanges have been enabled for ADSL for some time, but a recent changeover in the government's broadband funding policy -- under which remote users, and therefore ultimately telcos, are subsidised for their broadband connectivity -- delayed the switch-on.
The telco said it had enabled over 1400 exchanges under the government's previous broadband funding schemes, but a recent move to a new subsidy system -- the Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) -- initially saw Telstra excluded after the government decided that its broadband offerings were not "metro-comparable".
"The delay in our ADSL upgrade program could have been avoided, and over 200 exchanges turned on up to six months ago, if the funding rules and guidelines had not changed suddenly in a way that added complexity and uncertainty -- or if DCITA had been more flexible in their approach," a Telstra spokesperson said.
Yesterday, Telstra and the government signed the ABG funding deed, which will allow remote users to apply for subsidised services from the telco and give Australians access to services from 14 ISPs under the program.