Chinese vendor Huawei -- which has recently won ADSL deals with Optus and Powertel -- is one provider under consideration.
Despite the tests, Westnet has not yet committed to a network rollout, according to its marketing manager Alex Chagoubatov. "I'd say in the next month we'll make a decision," he told ZDNet Australia.
Installing its own hardware in Telstra's exchanges would reduce Westnet's dependence on the incumbent's wholesale services, and allow the ISP to sell higher speeds of up to 24Mbps.
Telstra has in recent months toughened its stance on providing wholesale services to retail competitors, raising some prices and pulling out of a deal with some ISPs that saw them cooperate on providing subsidised services to customers under the federal government's Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme.
Westnet's move to consider its options comes as Telstra will soon present the federal government with the final version of a plan to operationally separate its retail, wholesale and key network services divisions.
The move will force Telstra to give equal treatment to wholesale customers like Westnet as well as its own retail BigPond arm.
If Westnet doesn't build its own network, its other option for reducing reliance on Telstra is to cut deals with other wholesalers such as Powertel or NEC NEXTEP. Using Optus' massive new DSL network may also prove to be an option.
Westnet has one of the largest broadband customer bases in the market, with around 85,000 DSL customers.
Chagoubatov said his company was adding 5,000 new DSL customers a month. In addition, the company has some 6,500 customers using telephony services, and some 60,000 using dialup Internet.