The nation’s biggest telco Telstra has denied that several ADSL broadband upgrades in several Tasmanian towns had anything to do with the lack of immediate plans for National Broadband Network fibre to be rolled out in the areas concerned.
Yesterday the telco announced that the towns of Bridport and Dilston north of Launceston would receive new ADSL infrastructure in their telephone exchanges that would allow broadband-starved local businesses and residents access to the ADSL2+ speeds enjoyed by much of the rest of the country.
The news came after a steadfast campaign by community activists in the area around Dilston to get their town included in the list of Tasmanian locations to eventually be covered by the NBN’s optical fibre rollout. At the moment, NBN Co’s coverage listing shows the town as being scheduled to receive a fixed wireless service instead, which is considered inferior to the fibre cables – and which many also consider inferior to ADSL2+ broadband services.
For its part, Bridport is scheduled to receive fibre, but it is unclear when, as the town has not been listed in any of the early stage rollout locations for the NBN.
However, in a brief interview this morning, Telstra Country Wide general manager for Northern Tasmania, Michael Patterson, said Telstra’s decision to roll out ADSL infrastructure in the towns didn’t relate to the NBN plans.
“It’s just our normal business planning,” he said, noting that Telstra upgraded its network when it saw sufficient demand from customers in the region. He said that Telstra was “obviously” aware of where the NBN was going to be rolled out in Tasmania – as it was trialling the NBN services in early stage rollout zones – but the rollout of its ADSL infrastructure was “separate” and based on demand.
Patterson said wasn’t aware about whether Telstra planned to upgrade other exchanges in the area, but said the telco would allocate its capital efficiently – “where demand exists, we’ll expand the technology,” he said. “There are areas obviously where eople would like infrastructure, where no infrastructure exists,” he said. “We seek to meet that demand – sometimes with fixed, sometimes it’s with mobile.”
The executive noted Telstra was also expanding its Next G mobile network across Tasmania – seeing to maintain “coverage supremacy” over competitors Vodafone and Optus. “We have a rollout schedule of new towers across the state of Tasmania, to ensure we maintain that coverage gap,” he said, noting the company was investing “something like $3 million a week” in infrastructure in Tasmania – “significant capex and opex budgets” to maintain the company’s significant footprint in the state.
Some of the Dilston activists have, however, expressed concern about mobile coverage – for example, noting that signal was “notoriously bad” in the area, with drop-out problems abounding, and many in the region dreading the NBN’s proposed wireless solution.
Image credit: Delimiter screenshot of Google Maps