Wholesale ISP Agile Communications announced a $3 million project to equip exchanges in Victoria and South Australia with broadband services that operate at up to 8Mb/s, speeds that aren't being matched by Telstra.
Agile - a wholesale partner of national broadband provider Internode - would equip eight exchanges in Adelaide and Melbourne with ADSL2 technology over the next six months.
The company claimed its ADSL equipment could run as high as 8Mb/s, five times faster than the current 1.5Mb/s cap offered by Telstra.
Agile claimed it would set up a presence "independent of its giant broadband supplier and retail competitor Telstra and was introducing broadband services to five South Australian regional areas for the first time.
Company MD Simon Hackett said the Agile ADSL2-capable equipment offered both current and new generation broadband services. "Agile broadband exchanges are a superset of those available through Telstra-based ADSL deployments," he claimed.
"This includes longer reach from the exchange, better quality services and data speeds. This means we should deliver higher speed broadband and also be able to offer lower speed broadband links to people that Telstra has previously rejected," Hackett said.
By Christmas, Agile will deliver broadband services to five new exchanges in Yorketown in South Australia, Tailem Bend on the Murray River, two CBD exchanges in Adelaide and Melbourne's Exhibition St Exchange.
There are more plans to enable eight more exchanges in Q1 2005 in country towns Warooka, Maitland and Minlaton, and metropolitan exchanges at Unley, Norwood, St Peters, Glenunga and Prospect.
Hackett concluded that the costly business of broadband-enabling phone exchanges was dictated by customer demand.
"We've decided to bear this cost ourselves because Telstra has taken too long to equip exchanges with first generation ADSL, let alone the latest equipment," he said.
Commenting on Agile's claims, a Telstra spokesperson, said "ADSL speeds of 8Mb/s are maximums and given that they are distance sensitive any claim to be providing that speed needs to be qualified by how close a customer needs to be to Agile's exchange equipment to get 8Mb/s."
"What proportion of customers attached to that exchange can realistically expect 8Mb/s?" the spokesperson said.
"BigPond retails a maximum consumer ADSL speed of 1.5Mb/s because that is what is reliably available to customers within the 4.5 kilometres distance from an exchange that we base our service qualifications on."