update Telstra today finally launched uncapped ADSL1 and ADSL2+ broadband services, more than 18 months after some competitors started offering the higher speed services.
However, the telco will only sell ADSL2+ services in locations where competitors are already offering the higher speeds. It will offer the uncapped ADSL1 service nation-wide as a wholesale offering to competitors.
Telstra has up until now sold ADSL1 capped to 1.5Mbps, but the uncapped ADSL1 will allow speeds of up to 8Mbps. ADSL2+ allows speeds of up to 24Mbps, but Telstra is advertising the service at up to 20Mbps.
In a press conference this morning, Telstra's group managing director of its BigPond division, Justin Milne, said Telstra had ADSL2+ hardware in around 360 telephone exchanges, with a further 2400 capable of the upgraded ADSL1 speeds.
In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning, Milne blamed the geographical limitation on the ADSL2+ services on government regulation.
"Because of regulatory constraints, the up to 20Mbps service would be limited to [telephone] exchanges where competitors are also offering those higher speeds," Milne said.
Telstra has in the past voiced concerns the national competition regulator would force it to offer ADSL2+ as a wholesale offering to competitors, as it currently does the ADSL1.
The move to limit ADSL2+ to areas where competitors already offer it will be seen as an attempt to forestall the need to offer ADSL2+ as a wholesale offering.
The move comes as Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel said late last month that there was currently no need for Telstra to provide wholesale access to its next-generation ADSL network.
In the press conference this morning, Milne defended Telstra's controversial decision to cap its ADSL1 offering at speeds of 1.5Mbps since it was launched more than six years ago.
"Look really it's a regulatory question. We don't set the regulatory rules, the regulator sets the regulatory rules, and we have to operate within those rules," he told reporters.
"So now we've had a decision that having a balance for the interests of our shareholders, our customers most of all, and looking at the rules that prevail in Australia, we can get a commercial return by launching DSL2 today, and that's the reason why."
Milne also defended Telstra's move to limit the upstream speeds on its upgraded ADSL service to 384kbps. The technology is theoretically capable of much more.
"Well, it's an increase on our current upstream speed, and it's really where the network guys have set the network configuration for the time being. But this is an ongoing, evolving story, this one, so no doubt we will evolve," he said.
Milne said unlike other telcos, Telstra was not trialling the so-called Annex M standard which more than doubles upload speeds on ADSL2+ services.
Customers are able to check what speeds may be available in their area through Telstra's Web site. Some customers may need to purchase a new modem to take advantage of ADSL2+ services.
BigPond has also announced a range of new consumer-grade ADSL plans, as follows (download limit and price is per month):
"High speed" refers to uncapped ADSL1 or ADSL2+, depending on geographical location.