Telstra confirms 30Mbit/s cable upgrade

Sol Trujillo: $11.8 million man

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo has confirmed as revealed by APC on 17th July that Telstra will be upgrading its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to provide 30Mbit/s broadband speeds.

The HFC network is the basis of Foxtel’s cable TV and BigPond’s cable internet service separate to the copper phone line network that is used for ADSL. 

The relatively small jump in speed (17Mbit/s to 30Mbit/s) indicates that Telstra is indeed using channel-bonded DOCSIS technology rather than the newer DOCSIS 3.0 standard that Optus is considering.

Trujillo referred to the upgrade in the telco’s annual results presentation this morning saying only that it would be available by the end of the year to 1.7 million households — 62% of the premises that are able to be serviced by Telstra HFC.

He was tight lipped on other details refusing to discuss why the reach of the 30Mbit/s cable broadband was smaller than the overall footprint of Telstra’s HFC which covers 2.7 million premises. Presumably though Telstra’s engineers have found that 30Mbit/s is only attainable over certain distances.

Telstra previously unlocked the speed on its cable network for customers willing to pay more with a top speed of 17Mbit/s. However many customers were disappointed to discover their cable speed didn’t actually increase after subscribing to the plan prompting Telstra to allow customers to return to the cheaper plans.

“We are very focused on our customers when we do this it will be the fastest network in the country” Trujillo told journalists and analysts.

The Federal Government welcomed the plan using the opportunity to take pot-shots at Labor’s plan to build a publicly funded $4.7billion fibre network.

“Kevin Rudd has egg on his face today because Telstra is already doing this. Mr Rudd’s broadband economics are thoroughly discredited. Consumers in metropolitan areas will be getting another high speed broadband network and it has not come at the cost of competition with a multi-billion dollar slug to taxpayers” said communications minister Senator Helen Coonan.

“Australia will now have multiple high speed broadband networks including cable WiMAX ADSL2+ and following the completion of the competitive assessment process another high speed broadband network likely to be fibre.”

However Sol Trujillo would not commit to submitting an application to the government’s tender for a national fibre rollout. “I can’t answer that yes or no” he told journalists.

The government’s draft guidelines for companies who to bid for the network build includes some clauses that Telstra may find unpalatable such as the requirement to make all aspects of its services available at wholesale to other companies.

One such clause is clearly aimed at Telstra: “In the case of a vertically-integrated operator open and non-discriminatory access may be considered as the provision of access to the full range of input services that the network owner provides to itself.”

Telstra’s net profit increased 2.9% in the last year to $3.275 billion. Sol Trujillo received a paycheque of $11.8million from Telstra for the year including salary bonuses equity options and other benefits.