Telstra's outgoing CEO Sol Trujillo today said that uplink speeds for the telco's upgraded HFC cable in Melbourne would only reach an average of 2Mbps, well below average downlink speeds of 70 to 100Mbps, because customers didn't want higher uplink speeds.
"We're not intending to be a secondary ISP. We're not
intending to be a broadcaster of things or enabling broadcast of
content and other things which would require big amounts of speed
here," Trujillo told the press this morning after Telstra announced plans to upgrade its HFC cable in Melbourne.
"What we're trying to do is tailor this to
what our customers are telling us they'd like to do as
services," he added.
Trujillo agreed that some customers might have specialised needs which
would warrant high upload speeds, but said Telstra wasn't deluged by
requests for upstream speeds to increase.
"In terms of our platforms we have today, we're not getting
much demand from customers saying 'gee I need 20Mbps or I need
100Mbps upstream' at this stage," Trujillo said. "What most
people are doing in today's environment is mostly in the other
direction in terms of downloads. People want instant access, they
want real-time delivery, they want an enhanced experience and
that's really what we've focused on."
He said functions such as high-resolution video
conferencing were possible with the 2Mbps uplink speeds.
The upgrade isn't just about speed, with the installed
equipment ready to enable services, which Trujillo and Telstra CFO
John Stanhope believed would drive take-up.
"What we're doing is adding a return path and what we're
calling next-generation fixed capability," Stanhope said.
Trujillo said the service would play a role in stemming the
losses from the PSTN decline. Stanhope added that he expected in
excess of 25 per cent return on investment on the $300 million upgrade costs.
Melbourne is only stage one of the HFC upgrade, but the company
won't be making announcements on where the next step is and how
much it will cost until it has finished the Victorian city. "We
need to get to market to find out the execution side of it,"
Melbourne was a logical choice because of its one million homes
footprint and because the necessary teams and equipment were
already in the city, according to Trujillo.
He said that it was possible Telstra would extend the cable
beyond the one million homes in Melbourne who were currently able
to access the service, but only if take-up and average revenue per user on the original
footprint was high.
Trujillo also said that the move to upgrade Telstra's cable wasn't a
tacit admission that it had given up on getting any piece of the
National Broadband Network pie, saying that it had been considering
this step for a long time. The announcement just
before Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is set to announce the network builder also
wasn't timed to stymie the network in utero, according to Trujillo.