Telstra Wholesale extends Point Cook fibre trial

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Telstra Wholesale extends Point Cook fibre trial

Beta test for South Brisbane?

Telstra has extended its open access fibre-to-the-home trial in Point Cook by seven months, according to one of the ISPs reselling services on the network.

"A decision has been made to extend the Pt Cook trial till 30 June 2011," read a note purportedly sent by Telstra Wholesale to Exetel.

The note also said that "a variation agreement extending the trial" would be sent to Exetel.

Other participating ISPs contacted by iTnews were unsure of the status change.

A Telstra spokesman did not respond to numerous attempts by iTnews for confirmation.

The open access, wholesale trial kicked off in May and had been slated to end today, according to contracts signed by ISPs participating in the trial.

Point Cook was the first Telstra fibre network to be opened to retail service providers other than Telstra's own retail arm.

Other Telstra-owned fibre networks, such as the Velocity networks in new housing estates, remained closed to retail competition.

The Point Cook trial attracted broad interest from third-party sub-wholesalers and ISPs with ispONE, Internode, Exetel, Dodo, Platform Networks, Fortana joining Telstra in offering services over the network.

The network was available to about 1,500 residents in the Melbourne suburb that had previously been listed as a "broadband blackspot" due to its use of pair-gain systems.

Trial feedback

ISP Exetel's chief John Linton told iTnews the company had received applications from 120 Point Cook residents for retail internet services.

"We have 74 customers active currently," he said.

The majority of rejected applications came from residents "not within the 'lit' areas, according to Telstra".

Linton said the first six months of the trial had been "pretty smooth" although there had been some "issues" ensuring customer premise equipment was WAN-compatible and managing "speed and customer expectations".

He reported no issues with provisioning the services, nor with interfacing between the ISP's and Telstra's systems.

"It was just another product code in LOLIG as far as the B2B interfaces were concerned," he said.

LOLIG is an interface into Telstra's provisioning system.

Platform Networks managing director David Hooton told iTnews his company had also had no issues interfacing with Telstra's systems. But he also reported "minimal success with the trial... due to the number of residences covered."

"The sample size of this trial was just too small for us to fully assess the [wholesale fibre] product or its capabilities," Hooton said.

He said that he hoped Telstra would extend the open access arrangements across its whole fibre infrastructure – giving third-party providers a larger addressable market to target.

"I'm hoping to see Telstra release all of their Velocity housing estates and the address details of those estates sometime in the future to allow us to see the product being available to a larger target market," he said.

Telstra Wholesale executive director of next-generation services Trevor Brunton told iTnews back in May that the carrier did not "have a firm plan to deliver [open access wholesale services] beyond Point Cook".

But at least one ISP that was participating in Point Cook saw the trial as a precursor to open access arrangements being offered in South Brisbane, where Telstra was upgrading an exchange from copper to fibre.

"The South Brisbane exchange conversion to fibre is the thing that Point Cook looks to have been the beta test for," the ISP's spokesman said.

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