Telstra links ADSL 'congestion pricing', deep packet trial

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Telstra links ADSL 'congestion pricing', deep packet trial
DPI part of three-pronged attack on network congestion that includes price rises.

Three-prong attack on network congestion.

Telstra has linked a trial of deep packet inspection technology to a broader plan of attack against network congestion that also includes an unpopular plan to raise wholesale ADSL prices.

The carrier's director of consumer wireline, John Chambers, used a blog post late Friday to attempt to quell concerns over the DPI trial, which resurfaced last week after being first reported back in May 2011.

While much of Chambers' post attempted to address concerns over Telstra's plans to target peer-to-peer traffic and potential net neutrality ramifications, he also framed the technical trial within a broader set of initiatives laid out in a 16 November document lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

"Telstra's goal is to optimise the customer experience by managing congestion on its ADSL network through price, investment and technical means," the carrier wrote at the time. (pdf)

Deep packet inspection, if successful, potentially satisfies the technical portion of this congestion management strategy.

However, Telstra's regulatory position, which it has been laying the foundations for since August last year, is that simply investing more into growing network capacity and bandwidth isn't enough to halt the effects of congestion.

Through consultations for a final access determination for wholesale ADSL services, Telstra has been pushing the ACCC to increase wholesale ADSL prices "to assist with the management of network congestion".

The move has already sparked fierce resistance from access seekers. The extent of the congestion pricing proposal is also unknown, as large sections of Telstra's plans have been redacted in public-facing documentation.

Speed tiering

Chambers' revised blog post confirmed speculation that, aside from looking at ways to throttle certain types of traffic on its network, Telstra is also considering how it can introduce a user-pays system for quality-of-service.

Chambers noted that, separate from the DPI trial, a "customer experience trial ... will test what type of speed-based or alternatively application-based speed-tiered offers" the carrier might be able to market in future.

The trial would be managed through an existing market research customer panel, Chambers said.

Telstra said that although the trials may impact "the speed of data consumption for the use of particular services in particular circumstances", neither would "prevent a customer from using their full data usage entitlement".

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