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Optus in wide-scale DSL rollout

Optus this morning announced a AU$150 million rollout of its own broadband Internet digital subscriber line (DSL) equipment to hundreds of exchanges around Australia. The Singapore Telecommunications-owned unit said installations of DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs) into telephone exchanges -- necessary for the telco to deliver its own, rather than resold, DSL services -- would begin immediately.

Optus this morning announced a AU$150 million rollout of its own broadband Internet digital subscriber line (DSL) equipment to hundreds of exchanges around Australia.

The Singapore Telecommunications-owned unit said installations of DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs) into telephone exchanges -- necessary for the telco to deliver its own, rather than resold, DSL services -- would begin immediately. The full rollout is expected to extend to around 340 exchanges.

The carrier's investment encompasses both the DSLAMs and fibre connections from the exchanges back into the main Optus network.

Services are expected to be launched by the end of the year, with almost 100 exchanges enabled by April 2006. The Optus DSL network will extend the carriers' footprint to Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.

"This new competitive network will reach an additional 2.9 million households and businesses, adding to our existing cable footprint which passes 1.4 million homes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane," Optus chief executive, Paul O'Sullivan said.

"Our ability to better control the connection from our core network to our customers' premises will enable us to offer better download speeds, more value-adds and will enhance the overall customer experience".

Optus said the launch would make it "significantly less dependent" on Telstra in the provisioning and servicing of customers.

The DSLAMs will connect to copper wires running from the Telstra exchange to the customers' home. Optus leases the wire from Telstra under the regulatory framework known as Unconditioned Local Loop (ULL).

O'Sullivan said while Optus was proceeding with the launch, it planned to notify the competition watchdog of a dispute with Telstra over pricing for ULL services.

"Despite many months of negotiations, Telstra has refused to provide a price for the ULL service that we consider commercially fair," O'Sullivan said.

"Therefore we will shortly be lodging an access dispute with the ACCC. But we will not let this delay our launch date."

Optus presently has 406,000 broadband subscribers, 419,000 dial-up users and more than 1.1 million residential telephony customers. The company is presently Australia's largest DSL reseller with 162,000 subscribers.