Telstra brings regional exchanges up to speed

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Telstra brings regional exchanges up to speed

Telstra is one week into an upgrade of 421 regional exchanges to ADSL2+ and has also announced a $42 million investment in Next G base stations to be rolled out before the end of June.

Speaking at the Comms Day Summit in Sydney, Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie said the exchange upgrade program had started last week and would be completed "in the next 200 days".

He said this would add to the approximately 1,400 exchanges across Australia that are ADSL2+ ready.

McGauchie also announced Telstra will roll out another 141 mobile base stations for its Next G network before the end of June.

"It means that more Australians are getting the voice and data services they need," he said.

"The mayors, the chambers of business and local council get it. The number of people using BlackBerrys in country areas is quite astonishing. We know getting this level of service out to regional areas keeps them vital."

McGauchie lamented the lack of capital investment in the telecommunication sector, particularly outside of the metropolitan areas.

"Historically capex growth in the telecommunications sector has significantly outperformed capex growth in other industries," McGauchie said.

"Since the introduction of open competition into the telecommunications sector, there has been a significant period of under investment.

"Capex growth in the telecommunications sector is slower than in the previous decade for the first time. Investment is simply not forthcoming under the current regulatory regime."

McGauchie also claimed that while Telstra had been excluded from the process, it "had never been of the view that the NBN specified in the [RFP] process was right".

"The global economic situation and changes in consumer behaviour makes us more certain," he said.

He also made motions to the Government and successful bidder to re-engage Telstra to ensure the NBN is successful.

"The NBN is a massive and highly complex upgrade of Australia's fixed network - which Telstra owns and operates," he said.

"It is the most ambitious project of its type ever contemplated anywhere in the world and will require assumptions that we fear certain proponents have little chance of getting right.

"The entire process to decide the builder of the biggest infrastructure project in Australian history has been done behind high walls, without consulting the company that owns the network that is being upgraded.

"We simply have to take on trust that the Government is fully informed about the critical technical, operational issues and national security risks entailed in the NBN before it makes its final decision.

"We certainly stand at the ready to assist in explaining them - although we have not been asked to do so."

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