Tag: ADSL Internet

A French community shows that impending next-generation broadband service can improve ADSL service

Article – French language / Langue Française Brittany flag

Montée en débit en ADSL dans la commune de Sibiril en Bretagne | DegroupNews

My Comments

In a lot of rural and peri-urban areas, even ADSL internet service can be substandard as I have witnessed a few times. This is typically aggravated by established telecommunications entities that underinvest in the infrastructure that serves these areas and this infrastructure is not conducive to proper performance for any service based on DSL technologies.

In Brittany, France, the community in Sibril have decided to take action to have their telephony infrastructure improved before the arrival of an impending fibre-based next-generation broadband service. This effort has paid off with the bandwidth for 259 households in  the territory being improved to nearly 20Mbps where it was in the order of 0.5Mbps to 2Mbps. It has made the service fit for IP-based video services  to Full HD specification along with quicker downloading for even large files.

What Orange have done is to install cabinets closer to the affected locations and run fibre-optic cable to these cabinets, in a similar vein to a fibre-to-the-cabinet setup which implements VDSL2 technology. But they have deployed ADSL2 DSLAMs in the cabinets to assure continuity of ADSL2 service with existing Liveboxes. As well, the customers’ telephone cables are routed to the communications cabinet rather than the main telephone exchange.

This technique comes in to its own with country areas that have a village, hamlet or town which services a collection of smaller communities, something that is taking place in a lot of rural areas. It also comes in to its own with country towns that are growing and the telephony infrastructure needs to be re-worked. Here, a telecommunications cabinet could be installed closer to the various communities and it houses DSLAMs and similar “on-ramp” equipment but has enough rackspace to cope with a few large-property subdivisions that increases the number of customers. Then this cabinet is linked back to the main exchange using a fibre-optic connection while the premises’ telephony and ADSL services are terminated at the cabinet.

There is a greater chance of increased communications security for these areas because if there is equipment breakdown or power failure in a particular cabinet, other areas aren’t affected by the failure. This could also lead to the provision of battery backup in those cabinets for the local telephone services with this requiring a reduced energy need.

At least this comes across as a near-term solution to providing real broadband to densely-populated country areas or to cater for country areas that take a different more-dense housing character.

Wired broadband for the mobile-only household

Draytek VPN endpoint router

You can use a fully-functional router as part of a wired broadband service without the need to rent a classic telephone service

I have come across households that won’t operate a landline phone service and use mobile phones for their incoming and outgoing voice calls. In some cases, they even won’t run a wired broadband Internet service because they fear they have to pay a line rental to the incumbent telephone carrier for a landline service they don’t need. Instead they would use a mobile-broadband service for their Internet access needs, whether via a “Mi-Fi” device sharing the broadband via a Wi-Fi network with tablets and laptops or just by using mobile-broadband modems connected to or integrated in their mobile devices.

Which kind of users would this appeal to

This advice would appeal more to those of us who are in our premises for the long haul and don’t mind using an account with monthly postpaid billing for our services. On the other hand, a mobile-broadband service may have a better appeal where portability between premises or access to a prepaid service that can be worked into your budget matters.

What kind of connection

Dedicated infrastructure (Cable Internet, Fibre-to-the-premises, etc)

But you can use a wired broadband service in these situations. Here, you can order a broadband service which is based on dedicated-infrastructure technology. A cable-broadband, fibre-to-the-premises service or a fixed-wireless service is typically sold in a manner where you just pay for the dedicated infrastructure. Cable users can even just sign up for a service which has just the Internet service provided over the cable-TV infrastructure without the need to sign up for a pay-TV service.

Most of these services will require the installation of the necessary infrastructure and/or consumer-premises equipment if such infrastructure and equipment isn’t in place already. These services may also earn their keep if an ISP who offers naked / dry-loop DSL service won’t provide the service to a premises where there isn’t already an active telephone service.

Naked / Dry-loop DSL service

But you can use a DSL-based service which uses existing telephone wires, whether this is ADSL-based or VDSL as part of a fibre-copper next-generation broadband service. Here, you would need to sign up for a “naked DSL” service, also known as a “dry-loop” or standalone DSL service. These are provided in a manner where you don’t receive and pay line-rental for a classic landline telephone service, also known as a “dial-tone”. Rather, the telephone lines are used just for the DSL data service and some service providers may provide a “fully-optimised” DSL service which uses the whole bandwidth of the telephone line for the DSL data service.

This same service may also apply to a household or business who has a surplus telephone line along with one used for a classic land-line telephone service. These may be brought about due to a line used for a fax machine or dial-up Internet service or simply a separately-billed phone service for someone else living at home or for your home business, but you may end up purposing this line for a “naked ADSL” Internet service.

What kind of service plan

As for the communications service you sign up to, you would focus on a “data-only” service, also known as a “broadband-only” or “Internet-only” service without the need for a VoIP telephony or pay-TV service if you just want the data service rather than any telephony or pay-TV services.

On the other hand, they may offer a VoIP telephony service with call charges that represent increased value for money or an IPTV service as part of the package. They can be optioned on if you do need these services. The VoIP service will be typically delivered with a router that has an integrated analogue-telephony-adaptor or DECT base-station which works with most consumer fixed-line telephony equipment.

What this allows you to do

The main advantages you would have with these services would be higher bandwidth that is more available as well as a service that gives better value-for-money than the mobile-broadband service. As well, you can use a broadband router that provides improved functionality like wired Ethernet connections and an improved Wi-Fi access point. This device even opens up paths for improving your home network like using a network-enabled printer or a network-attached storage device that works reliably.

For that matter, you can keep your mobile broadband service more or less as a portable broadband solution for whenever you are “on-the-go” and away from home.


It is still worth considering a wired broadband service for your home if your mobile phone is your main telephone handset. Here, you obtain a service that is independent of a classic telephone service such as one based on dedicated infrastructure like cable or a “naked-DSL” service.

Bouygues Télécom reduces the cost of triple-play broadband in France

Articles (French Language / Langue Française)

Bouygues Telecom casse les prix avec une Box Triple Play à moins de 20€ | DegroupNews

MWC 2014: Wiko veut devenir le roi des smartphones low cost | ZDNet.fr

From the horse’s mouth

Bouygues Télécom

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

Flag of France

The price barrier for triple-play Internet to hit 20 euros here!

Things are becoming increasingly competitive over at France now with Bouygues Télécom offering a baseline triple-play Internet service for just on 20 euros per month.

Here, this service, known as BBox, offers for this price, ADSL Internet with a 20Gb “data elbow” hosted storage facility, a fixed telephone line with unlimited calls to fixed lines in France and 121 other areas and a multichannel IPTV service with 165 channels, catch-up TV and a 40Gb DVR setup. There is even the ability to drop €6 extra for the BBox Sensation which has 50Gb of extra hosted storage, video-on-demand, online gaming, a multi-screen setup and a 300Gb DVR facility.

This is like the way Free worked where they offered to the French market the Internet and online services that people wanted at really low prices. Some people could describe that this kind of competition and the low prices are unsustainable even though that there is the situation where there is a likelihood of increased revenue due to many of the services being sold in volume. As well it has been described that the telecommunications companies are working on very slim margins to satisfy the price war, providing Internet at a price that everyone can afford without question.

Even Martin Bougyes who runs this telecommunications company has underscored the idea that Internet access is a necessity, not a luxury (FR: « Internet n’est pas un produit de luxe, c’est un produit nécessaire » ). This is similar to how I have described broadband Internet as being “hot and cold running Internet” where it is effectively like a utility like water or electricity.

Of course, there is a missing question about whether this service requires a multiple-month contract or can be engaged “by the month” and whether the price plans would be considered suitable for people who maintain those “bolt-holes” in France.

In some ways, who knows who’s watching the broadband and “multiple-play” Internet scene in France from the UK to see how they can bring the same level of competitiveness to that market?

You live in an outer-urban area and find you have unreliable Internet connections. What do you do?

I have covered the issue of substandard and unreliable fixed-broadband Internet connections in rural and outer-urban areas on HomeNetworking01.info before, based on experience with people who have had this kind of situation occur to them.

In these situations, a customer may find that they have very reduced bandwidth especially abnormally low bandwidth. On the other hand, the Internet connection becomes increasingly unreliable with it dropping out or taking too long to establish. The latter situation may be typically in the form of the SYNC or LINK light flashing or off or, in some cases this light glows and the INTERNET or CONNECTION light flashes, indicating Internet connection trouble.

For some home users who use the Internet for personal use, it is so easy to give up on the service due to this unreliability. But you shouldn’t simply give up on this service.

What you can do

Here, you contact the ISP’s or telecommunication company’s customer-service department preferably by phone and report this fault. Even if it “comes good”, it is worth keeping the ISP’s customer service “in the loop” about when the service comes good or not.

Keeping a record of when the failures or inconsistencies in the Internet service’s performance occurs may also help the ISP has a fair idea of what was going on. This is important with ADSL services and similar services where another company like an incumbent telco manages the infrastructure. It also is a way of identifying if a failure or substandard performance occurred in conjunction with particular weather conditions such as rainfall, which gives the game away with failing connections between the exchange and your premises.

As well, identify where the point of demarcation for your service is, which delineates where the service provider’s point of responsibility is when providing the service. In most ADSL services, the first telephone socket which may be in the hall or kitchen; or the provider-supplied splitter may be the point of demarcation. Here, you can know if the failure was with equipment and accessories you own or not.

If your hear your neighbours moan about substandard broadband Internet performance, ask them to join forces with you and keep a record of when they were affected. This could be a situation concerning the old or decrepit infrastructure. Other stakeholders that are worth talking to are shopkeepers and other small business owners whom you deal with because they may be facing similar problems.

The issue that typically occurs with ADSL providers is that they blame the customer’s equipment because they find that the modem at their end is still good. They don’t realise that the infrastructure between the exchange and the customer’s premises may be at fault. This typically is where the service is “good enough” for voice telephony but will not perform for ADSL broadband Internet as highlighted in the article. Here, you may have to draw this to your ISP’s customer service department that they need to pay attention to this wiring.

As I have mentioned before in the article, the situation that commonly plagues the telephone wiring infrastructure in rural and outer-urban areas is that there is a lot of old and decrepit infrastructure in these areas. When ADSL is provided in these areas, the work may be just done at the exchange as the DSLAM modems are installed in the exchange. But the infrastructure isn’t assessed properly for points of failure as part of the installation in normal circumstances. Similarly, the telephony infrastructure may not be upgraded when the town becomes enveloped in a metropolis.

Further action

This may only occur for a town’s business area or if a major employer sets up shop in the neighbourhood. It would also happen for services affected by a disaster evebt or by damage that affects a particular line like a tree falling across that line. But this activity should be a chance for all telephone customers in the town to have their lines assessed for proper ADSL service whether they are starting broadband service using that technology or not.

Mayotte to benefit from real broadband at last

Article – French language

Le haut débit s’étend à Mayotte – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Mayotte is a “département outre-mer of France located in the Mozambique Channel on the east coast of Africa near Madagascar and has two main islands. It achieved this status in 2011 and is intending to become the outermost region of the European Union in 2014 although there is some of the Islamic culture still existing in that area.

Just lately, France Télécom – Orange have rebuilt the main exchange to integrate ADSL support in the telephone system. This is in conjunction with the connection of the country to the LION 2 submarine telecommunications cable that is integrating the eastern African islands to the LION connection that is servicing the east cost of Africa.

This would allow the islands in this DOM to benefit from an increased amount of bandwidth where there is a goal to make sure that 90% of the households and businesses in this DOM have access to the real broadband service. Initially the households located at the south of the DOM in Kani-Kéli, Chirongui, Poroani or Tsimkoura would receive the service.

Personally I would see this as a chance for areas neighbouring Africa to be in a position to show that continent that the Internet can enable people in this area to benefit as far as cost-effective communications is concerned.

CNET article on one’s experience in getting rural access to real broadband


At last, broadband in the boonies, but at a price | Crave – CNET

My comments

I have run regular coverage about the provision of real broadband Internet service in to rural areas and is something that I stand for as the author and owner of this site. Just lately, I have come across this CNET article about how Crave writer, Eric Mack had succeeded in bringing real broadband to his mountain home in New Mexico, USA.

He was detailing how the WildBlue satellite broadband service was treated as a costly rare premium service compared to the wider availability of satellite pay-TV service in that neighbourhood. Then he talked about the inconsistent provision of ADSL broadband in that neighbourhood by the local telephone company which works in a similar manner to Telstra in Australia or British Telecom in the UK.

Later on, he pointed out the arrival of an “open fibre” network that was laid by a local co-operative who was addressing the need of “real broadband in the bush”. The concept of this “open fibre” network was to allow any and all ISPs and telcos to make use of the fibre-optic infrastructure rather than it being for the exclusive use of a particular company. It is in contrast to the typical cable-TV infrastructure that is for the use of the company that owns it.

Then, in the last article, Eric talked of the possibility of mobile-telephony providers rolling out 3G or 4G mobile-broadband service to these areas. He summed it up very well in the fact that it takes a lot of work to get communications infrastructure providers to establish infrastructure to provide a decent standard of broadband Internet in to these areas.

I see this as a “chicken-in-egg” scenario that if you don’t provide the infrastructure, you won’t get “serious money” in to the neighbourhood in the form of industry, commerce or similar high-value activity whereas you wait upon the arrival of a significant population set and economy before you deploy the infrastructure. This can be more so with neighbourhoods that are outside the commuting distance of a major metropolitan area or don’t have a very significant core economy about them.

More steps taking place in enabling Gironde for real Internet

Articles (France – French language)

Fibre optique : la Gironde s’équipe mais Bordeaux prend du retard – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

In rural France, a département at a time for real Internet

Previously I have mentioned about Gironde being the location of a département-wide fibre-optic backbone rollout with an intention to reduce the digital divide that existed in that area. Now the rollout is underway with positive results coming through in that goal.

What is happening in Gironde

The fibre-optic trunks will allow more ADSL equipment to be in place thus enabling 7600 households who couldn’t to have Internet and 35000 more dial-up-modem or low-broadband households to have real proper broadband speeds.

There is public money involved with a public-private partnership with Orange. But the Gironde local government will persist on the project making sure real Internet service passes more households.

Delay with Bordeaux

But it is not all rosy at the moment. Bordeaux, the main economy in that area is being put back while the rest of the département is being covered with fibre-optic. Part of this is a presumption that there is full ADSL coverage in that city, but Bordeaux could benefit from next-gen broadband as much as anywhere else.

A main limitations is the competence of the bureaucracy concerning Bordeaux’s Internet rollout and this exposes the city to a two-tier risk as far as Internet service is concerned. This can be demonstrable with outer-urban growth corridors or resort spots that exist around the town. It can also extend to areas that may house lower socioeconomic classes But they hope to have Bordeaux covered with fibre-optic next-generation Internet by 2013.


In some countries, it may take a local-government area or a regional-government area to focus on Internet-enabling that area and it may have to be a public effort.

What is happening with rural broadband access

Tree on a country propertyAny of you who are regular readers of this site or who subscribe to it will have seen regular articles on activity concerning improvement of broadband Internet service in rural areas. Previously, I have written a post about why I stand for proper Internet service in the countryside and cover it in this site.

But I have observed activities that have raised the standard of rural Internet service in certain areas where there has been lively and competitive trading environment for Internet service. These range from local startups who offer to raise the bar for Internet in a country town to governments putting their hand to the plough for real broadband in the country.

Why rural broadband service

Farmers and small business in rural areas

Primarily farmers and small-business owners would benefit from proper broadband in the country. This is due to more of the business being transacted online such as the use of e-government services as part of managing livestock on the farm.

There is also the desire to be competitive with urban businesses or, in the case of farming, be responsive to customer and partner needs very quickly.

A motel that can offer public-access Internet as a competitive edge

Motels like this one can offer Wi-Fi hotspots as a competitive edge

It also extends to hospitality businesses like hotels, motels, cafes and restaurants in these areas who want to offer public-access Internet service as a way of offering “that bit extra”. This would encompass resorts created around mountains or water features like ski resorts or lakeside resorts.

Similarly, education institutions who have rural campuses can benefit from real broadband Internet as a study and research tool. This could lead to universities and the like enriching the town with research-driven business.

Country living

The countryside is infact considered an ideal place to live due to a slower pace of life. As well, some parts of the country are particular areas of attraction for this class of living due to features of natural beauty like water features, forests or mountains.

An increasing number of urban-based people visit the country as a holiday destination or even move there. Here they would benefit from the same standard of broadband as they have in the city so they can communicate with relatives or friends there.

Similarly, the appeal of telecommuting wound go in hand with the country life as people can head in to the city only when they need to conduct business meetings. This would appeal to semi-retired people who are reducing their time in the main office.

Peri-urban areas

I am also encompassing peri-urban rural areas as well as the typical rural areas that are a distance away from major towns in the scope of this article. These are typically farming districts, areas of outstanding natural beauty or areas surrounding classic monuments that abut a major city; but are sparsely populated compared to the major city.

The people who live in the major city see these places as being a destination for a day trip and a lot of business in these areas is boosted by the tourists from the major city. Some of these areas, especially those focused around areas of outstanding beauty also attract retirees or other people who are “done with the city” as a place of residence, although it doesn’t take them long to travel to town when they need to visit it.

Examples of these in Australia are the Yarra Valley Wine District and the Dandenongs in Melbourne; the Blue Mountains in Sydney and Barwon Heads in Geelong. In France, there would be the wine regions surrounding some of the major cities like Bordeaux.

Action that has been undertaken on this front

Local initiatives

A major form of action that I have noticed is initiatives that are driven by local government and business. This has commonly occurred in broadband-improvement rollouts that are funded by local councils and / or facilitated by small local telecommunications firms or ISPs.

The best examples are the UK developments where local broadband service providers are formed or regional broadband service providers plough effort into “switching on” particular parishes. There are intense local awareness campaigns run by these small broadband service providers to solicit interest from the residents and business owners; and they will manifest in the form of offline and online promotions; including town-hall meetings.

In some of the UK deployments, there has been the use of local “sweat equity” for assisting in the establishment of fibre trunks as well as local landowners setting up easements for these fibre trunks.

Similarly local governments in the UK and France have provided seed money to the broadband initiatives. These are usually to make the towns attract more investment as well as to ignite local “e-government” initiatives.

National assistance

Defining universal-service obligations

Some countries are taking action to define a minimum broadband Internet service standard to be available across their territories. This is akin to the universal service standards that have been applied to electricity and telephone services.

Here, this may be achieved through extending the remit of the universal telephone service, including collecting monies associated with its provision, to the broadband Internet service.

National and international funding

This also leads to national governments funding broadband-service improvement; usually as part of an Internet-service improvement for the nation.as In Europe, for example, the nations also receive handouts from the European Union in Brussels towards facilitating these improvements.

In some countries like Australia and the UK, the upgrading of the telecommunications backbone to fibre-optic technology and the provision of fibre-based infrastructure close to or reaching the customer is considered a major driver for rural-broadband improvement. The use of public resources for this kind of upgrade has often beem met with derision by various conservative groups because they would rather see it all left in the hands of private enterprise.


Some of the technology is based on what is being used to established the “next-generation broadband” Internet services and is being used as a way of catering to the growth of these rural areas and the changing data transfer needs.

Fibre-to-the-cabinet technology

This typically creates a high-speed fibre-optic backbone to one or more street cabinets located close to customer clusters.The customers have the phone connections linked to this cabinet and the Internet service is delivered via ADSL2 or VDSL2 technology over these phone services.They may have the regular telephone provided via the town’s exchange, a sub-exchange in the street cabinet or VoIP technology.

In some situations, this technique has been used as an “ADSL2 booster” effort by bringing a higher-throughput ADSL2 service to customers who, by virtue of distance to the exchange, would receive lower throughput service or no service at all.

This also opens up a path for offering fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband Internet to customers in these towns, either as a service differentiator or as an upgrade path. It also provides for service growth especially if a town acquires a major employer and sees its capacity grow.

Fibre-optic trunks

A fibre-optic trunk line that passes country areas may be treated like a natural-gas pipeline passing these areas. Here, branch lines or “spurs” are connected to the trunk line and used to serve local communities; while the trunk serves cities that are at each end of the line.

This is seen as a way to establish a next-generation broadband Internet service in to the neighbouring towns in a cost-effective manner.

Terrestrial wireless and “white space” spectrum

Another technology that is exciting the prospects of real broadband to the country is the concept of terrestrial wireless. These setups are typically fixed-wireless links that serve individual households or, in some cases, communities or household clusters, with a wired technology like ADSL2 or Ethernet linking to each customer.

Initially this technology was based on 2.4GHz or similar radio links but there is a new break being facilitated at the moment and it is known as “white space”. This is where UHF or, in some cases, Band III VHF, TV spectrum that has been vacated by TV broadcasters as they change to spectrum-efficient digital TV technology.

Governments are looking at using this bandwidth as a cost effective way to provide terrestrial-wireless Internet service to country areas where it would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to provide copper or fibre-optic wireline Internet service. Examples of this kind of setup would be mountains or islands.

This will typically end up as a fixed-wireless deployment with a modem connected to the aerial (antenna) which would most likely be a high-gain TV aerial. This modem would be connected to a broadband router to serve the home network installed at homes in these locations.

Issues to be looked at

A key issue to be looked at in relation to providing a proper broadband Internet service to the country is the decrepit telephony infrastructure that exists in these areas. This is something that I have seen for myself with people who have lived in the country or peri-urban areas as they experienced ADSL service that performed poorly or became less reliable.

Here, telephone companies have historically allowed the telephony infrastructure to perform just enough for voice traffic. As well, due to long cable runs, it has become cost-prohibitive to always renew this telephone wiring to the customer’s door. In some cases, monopoly telephony carriers have allowed the telephony infrastructure to become severely derelict, with callers experiencing poor-quality telephone conversations where they hear crackling or crosstalk.

Dial-up modems and fax machines have worked to what was expected of these phone lines, usually using error-correction methods as part of the data transmission protocols.

ADSL broadband has put a newer requirement on the phone lines due to the bandwidth decreasing as the distance increases. In some cases, newer wiring has effectively increased the performance of the telephone system as far as ADSL service is concerned. On the other hand older and decaying connections would impair the telephone circuit’s ADSL performance, even causing the ADSL signal to drop out. This is even though you could successfully make or take a telephone call on that same line.

What needs to happen if ADSL broadband is being rolled out in to a rural area, the telephone lines need to be checked for quality and reliability. This includes checking connections for quality and reliability; and that ADSL line-distance metrics need to be true to the phone service’s distance from the exchange.

It also includes re-assessing telephone systems whenever newer building developments take place; which can happen over a town’s lifespan. It also includes situations where a neighbouring town becomes larger and the current area becomes a suburb of the neighbouring town.


There have been some positive steps taken by different parties to make the idea of real broadband Internet service in the country a reality. This includes encompassing it as part of defining the minimum requirements for an Internet service.

Further proof that outer-urban areas are at broadband-service-starvation risk

The current situation that faces these areas

There is a common issue with Internet service provision for customers that live outside of a major metropolitan area and this issue will become of concern as these metropolitan areas edge out to the country areas. This is where a town or district has old and decrepit telephony connections that are repaired or improved in a “patchwork” manner.

Typically, ADSL service would be rolled out to the towns by the installation of DSLAM equipment in the telephone exchange by the various providers. This happens with the old telephone wiring and connections still in place and, of course, any work that is done on the wiring infrastructure may be in response to disaster events or simply damaged lines such as a tree falling across a phone line. The old and decrepit phone infrastructure may be just good enough for a voice call or a fax transmission with modest equipment at each end of the line.

In some areas, there may be some work done on the telephone infrastructure covering the core business area of a small town i.e. the shopping strip and areas surrounding the hospital, police station or council offices. A large employer who is attracting business to the town may cause the telephony infrastructure provider to provide improved infrastructure for their business premises and some nearby areas.

The examples

Previously, I had seen a friend of mine who lived in Yarra Glen, which is in the Yarra Valley Wine District just east of Melbourne about their Internet connection.

The symptom was no successful connection to the ISP. They tried a new modem router just in case the old one had packed it in and the problem was the same. Then their retail ISP had found through Telstra who was the infrastructure provider in Australia that there were connections between the exchange and my friend’s residence that were simply rotten. They were good enough for voice telephony but not good enough for ADSL service.

Another example was found out through a conversation with a small-business owner who runs bottle shops (liquor stores / off-licences) in two towns in the Dandenongs that are a short distance apart from each other.

At one of the shops, there was poor quality-of-service for the Internet connection servicing that premises. He received different quotes for the “distance to the exchange” metric which affects the ADSL Internet service, even though the business was very close to the town’s exchange.

At that time, there was work being done by Telstra in the neighbourhood to replace some problemsome wiring. This was then causing the different readings for the “distance to exchange” metric due to the different quality of wiring and the connection that existed.

An industry problem that may affect service providers and customers

A question that typically faces the user and the retail broadband provider is who is to blame for the substandard service? That is whether it is the infrastructure provider, the wholesale broadband provider or the retail ADSL ISP?

This ends up with the buck being passed between the different parties and can become more aggravating especially where the fault lies with decrepit infrastructure. In some situations, this can place the customer in a position of liability for troubleshooting work that had taken place because the retail ISP’s equipment wasn’t at fault.

If the fault lies with the infrastructure between the exchange where the ISP’s ADSL equipment is located and the customer’s premises, it should be made clear that the fault lies at that point and the infrastructure provider is required to repair that fault.

What can be done

Infrastructure assessment as part of service deployment

Typically, whenever ADSL broadband is rolled out to a town in a rural, regional or peri-urban area, the work that typically occurs is to have the DSLAM equipment installed at the exchange plus some modifications at the exchange end of the service infrastructure. There isn’t a chance for the wiring infrastructure to be assessed for service problems, such as poor-quality connections or old and decrepit wiring.

This should be done more so as retain Internet service providers that provide their services on an “unbundled local loop” basis start rolling their services out in to that area or as multiple retail Internet service providers share the same DSLAM equipment in the exchange.

What should really happen is that if customers in an area register for ADSL service and the service arrives at the exchange; the condition of the wiring to that area should be assessed for proper ADSL throughput. At that point, any and all repairs should then be performed for all of the telephone subscribers in that area; including removal of pair-gain wiring setups that limit modem throughput.

Public-private engagement

Of course, it may be considered too costly especially in these areas, but there also needs to be the benefits assessed for that work to take place. This may include increased service utilisation which may yield more revenue and an incremental improvement for businesses who work in the area where their goods and services gain increased value.

In some ways, this kind of effort could be a public-private partnership where government is involved in the improvement effort. My suggestion of the use of government involved with money sourced from the taxes that we pay may be scoffed at by the “free-market, no-public-money” advocates but it may have to be the way we would go to seek these improvements. This is more so if there isn’t any sort of universal-service-obligation mechanism established for broadband Internet service.

In this case, the local government which is the shire or city council could be engaged in funding these service improvements that are specific to their local area. This could then allow the local government to attract more business or maintain a highly-viable business ecosystem in their area; especially if the area is driven by many small businesses like most of these areas.

This has been performed successfully in various British villages like Lyddington in Leicestershire whenever next-generation broadband Internet was delivered to these villages.


We just can’t think of improving broadband in particular rural areas when we give real broadband to sparsely-populated areas. Rather we also need to factor in the sparsely-populated areas that exist on the edge of our cities and, in some cases, serve as attraction districts for these urban areas like wine districts or beauty districts as part of broadband-service improvement plans.

Broadband pricing in US and Europe falls • The Register

 Broadband pricing in US and Europe falls • The Register

My comments

This article talks of a highly-competitive broadband Internet-service that exists in the US and Europe, with this aided and abetted by the provision of lower-cost prepaid mobile broadband services with generous usage caps and the provision of multiple-play services by the ISPs. In some countries like the UK and France, this would be augmented by telecommunications competition regulations that “have teeth” and the willingness for telecommunications regulators like OFCOM (UK) and ARCEP (France) to enforce these regulations.

In the case of multiple-play (triple-play) services, the ISPs can make up for the low-cost Internet through highly-differentiated telephone and pay-TV packages as well as selling or leasing-out hardware for these services.

But there are some other factors worth considering here. One would be that the cost of a regular cable or ADSL fixed-line service would be going downhill because most of the countries are rolling out fibre-optic-based “next-generation broadband”. Here, users who are technologically “switched on” would head to these services and the ADSL services would then be freed up and sold to most people who have regular broadband needs at a “dime-a-dozen”. It would then make the “modest-bandwidth” services become less valuable to the ISPs and these would be sold as “entry-level” services while existing customers would be shifted up to the higher-bandwidth services.

In Australia, we are missing out on this because we have a series of problems:

  • The role of the universal telephony service provider is on Telstra’s hands with people who buy Telstra’s discretionary services like Internet or mobile-telephony service bearing the cost of them furnishing this basic requirement through high costs or reduced download quotas.
  • Reduced infrastructure-based competition between mainstream telcos for Internet and mobile-telephony service with some operators charging others a premium to use their infrastructure.
  • Higher costs and reduced international-link competition that also keep the Internet costs high.

At least the broadband issue has been one of the main playing cards in the last Federal election. This could put everyone “on notice” about the providing of cost-effective Internet service across the country.