HOME Technology Dec 2010
Data pushes speed limit
Broadband essential infrastructure
Legacy equipment including low end dial up modems, fax machines, eftpos terminals, security and medical alarms and even some earlier TV set-top boxes may no longer work.


Exponential demand for high speed data including online video services is highlighting the urgent need for enhanced digital subscriber line (DSL) technology and fibre to the home, although there may be some speed bumps along the way.

Telecom had planned to begin migrating from the existing public switched telephone network (PSTN) to full digital internet telephony at the end of this year but trials showed a range of devices would stop working.

Although converters could helping some cases other legacy equipment including low end dial up modems, hundreds of thousands of fax machines, eftpos terminals, security and medical alarms and even some earlier TV set-top boxes could become useless.

Telecom has asked for more time to sort out what it considers is an industry problem. The staged migration to the full next generation network will occur between 2012 and 2020.

End of NEC switches

As part of the transition Telecom it is replacing the ancient NEC switches at the core of its network to become more compatible with other carriers and pave the way for smarter, more flexible telephony services.

Telecom-owned Chorus is around two-thirds of the way through a $500 million four-year project to roll out fibre to roadside cabinets in an effort to improve broadband performance. By September it had laid over 3000 km of fibre which will enable download speeds of at least 10Mbit/s to 84 percent of households.

Telecom will also make its VDSL2 fast broadband offering available to up to 60 percent of the country by late 2011. The goal is to achieve 40Mbit/s down and 8-10Mbit/s upstream within 700 metres of an enabled cabinet. There’s a money back guarantee if subscribers don’t get a minimum 15Mbit/s download and 5Mbit/s upload speeds.

Cisco’s annual study of world ‘broadband quality’ published in October rated New Zealand at 24 out of 30 countries, claiming download speeds had improved by an average of 21 percent to 4.6Mbit/sec and average upload speeds had increased 12 percent to 682kbit/sec. 

However a series of tests conducted by Akamai suggested the average New Zealand broadband connection was a mere
2.97Mbit/s and in August local company TrueTest downgraded it to around 1.9Mbit/sec.

Cisco says global download speed had increased 49 percent in the past three years to 5.9Mbit/sec while download speeds had improved 69 percent to 1.7Mbit/sec.

Data cap dilemma

New Zealand had 1.3 million broadband subscribers in the year to June 2010, up 15 percent on the previous year, according to Statistics NZ in its annual Internet Provider Survey. While
DSL accounted for three-quarters of all broadband use, growth had slowed since 2007 with cellular, cable and satellite access up by one third.

The survey found 60 percent of broadband subscribers had a data cap of 5Gb or more, an increase of 10 percent over 2009. New Zealand is one of the few OECD countries that still applies data caps.

Many businesses and users who want to operate in an rich media environment struggle with this issue which would see a 10Gb data cap gobbled up by five standard movie downloads or one HD movie a month.

That will seriously hobble widespread acceptance of Web TV offerings from TiVo, iSky and other impending services with consumers reluctant to pay for subscriptions and bandwidth.  Rrelief may come as Telecom, TelstraClear, Kordia and others upgrade and expand their high speed wireless and fibre networks and ISPs reconsider their charging regimes.

Plans are also underway to expand our international undersea capacity but the big hope lies with the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative which will begin in earnest early next year.


  Back2front    General Interest Webzine