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Telstra confident its CVC robots can clear ACCC capacity standards

Automated weekly reviews help the incumbent telco handle capacity charges on NBN.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Telstra is handing the allocation and purchasing of its NBN capacity on a weekly basis, thanks to the introduction of automated bandwidth monitoring.

Speaking at Telstra Investor Day on Thursday, Telstra director of networks Mike Wright said the company has known for 19 months how much bandwidth users are receiving.

"Every week we're measuring the traffic on the CVC interfaces, we're applying our own statistical analysis to it, and working out what we need to buy for the next week. That goes into the network that week, and next week we do the same process," he said.

"What we have done is by putting robots inside the gateways, and some physical robots, we can now measure the experience end-to-end.

"We already know from the test we've done, that we are delivering at least or better than the standards that the ACCC have defined for customer experience."

Announced in August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Broadband Speed Claims: Industry guidance document said RSPs should advertise the speeds typically experienced during "the busy evening period", and utilise a labelling system outlining the "typical busy period speed" in the categories of basic evening speed, standard evening speed, standard plus evening speed, and premium evening speed.

The basic evening speed category would apply to 12/1Mbps NBN Ethernet Bitstream Service (NEBS); standard evening speed would involve 25/5Mbps NEBS plans with 15Mbps minimum speeds during typical busy periods; standard plus evening speed would be for 50/20Mbps NEBS services with a minimum busy period speed of 30Mbps; and premium evening speed would be for 100/40Mbps NEBS services with a minimum of 60Mbps.

Wright also said the company has been upgrading its core network to handle up to 100Tbps between capital cities, and for it to become programmable.

"The fibre itself is a passive asset, but then you shine a laser down the end of it with the electronics, and it's those electronics that we're modernising and we are taking the basic capacity of our fibre up to 8.8Tbps per fibre pair, or between capital cities we can see scale to 75 or 100Tbps," he said. "Essentially, we are laying the foundations for that future growth and that demand explosion that is going to come from video."

"But at the same time this foundational network is coming with the in-built SDN capability -- which means this will move from a static route-based optical connectivity to a world where we will be able to program it."

Over the years, Telstra baked triple-redundancy or above into its interstate links, due to experience with lines being cut.

"We know when one gets cut, it's not long before the second one will get cut," Wright said. "Triple-redundancy is at the heart of the core of our network."

With the introduction of software-defined routing, the network will be able to "self-heal" and provide dynamic services, according to the network director.

As Telstra's existing network is replaced in part by the one being built by NBN, the company also said yesterday it would be looking to potentially "rationalise" a number of exchanges.

Earlier on Thursday, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the company will be introducing an unlimited broadband data plan in the coming weeks, alongside a doubling of data for users who pay less than AU$99 per month.

"Later this month, we will be introducing unlimited data on our AU$99 and above plans for new and existing customers, and doubling the data allowances on other broadband plans for existing customers over the coming weeks," Penn said.

"These bundles adopt the ACCC new communication guidelines for NBN services. We have been in discussions with the ACCC regarding these guidelines and how to address the spirit of them retrospectively, and we anticipate communicating the results of this shortly."

In recent months, the company has added virtual SD-WAN to its programmable network, deployed VoLTE across Cat-M1 IoT network, and introduced Telstra Messaging built on Rich Communication Services that allows SMS, MMS, group chat, file sharing, read receipts, and voicemail messages to be audio files all within the one app.

For the full year to June 30, Telstra announced net profit of AU$3.9 billion, down 32.7 percent from AU$5.8 billion a year prior, with EBITDA up 2 percent to AU$10.7 billion, and revenue down 2.7 percent to AU$26 billion.

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