Cable choice determines city coverage

WHILE it’s easy to get the impression that broadband services are available almost anywhere, this is not quite the case in practical terms.

Both Telstra and Optus have the nation covered in terms of satellite broadband access, meaning even the most remote regions can have high-speed Internet connections.

But for the majority of Perth-based businesses, concerns about cost and practicality mean the desire for broadband comes down to a choice between ADSL, Pay-TV cable or fibre-optic cable.

Because it uses existing copper phone lines, ADSL is the most widely available of these technologies, with at least 34 of Telstra’s Perth telephone exchanges ADSL-enabled.

This means most of the central Perth metropolitan area is covered, as far south as Fremantle, north to Hillarys and east to Cannington. Beyond these points, however, ADSL access is still not available, although Telstra is expected to continue to expand into uncovered areas.

Perth is not the only place in WA to be covered. When Telstra began its ADSL roll-out in 2000, it committed itself to providing 90 per cent of homes and businesses with broadband access within two years.

As of today, telephone exchanges, including some in Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Busselton, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Mandurah and Margaret River have been upgraded to support broadband technology, and it is expected more regional exchanges will be upgraded in time.

One important issue regarding ADSL, however, is that users need to be within about three kilometres of an enabled exchange to be able to use it. Even if the exchange that serves your area handles ADSL transfers, if you’re not within that distance you won’t have access.

It’s also true that the closer to an exchange you are the faster your data transfer rates will be, although the limits imposed by service providers (according to which plan you have chosen) do not allow completely unimpeded transfer speeds.

Businesses located in central Perth are in the best position when it comes to choose what broadband service they want.

They are close to the city’s main phone exchanges and can also choose between cable or a number of fibre-optic networks.

At least six different companies – Telstra, Optus, Amcom, AAPT, UeComm and Swiftel – have installed fibre-optic cable around the CBD, although the expense involved in doing this and other issues, such as getting access into certain buildings has, in some cases, limited the deployment of cable to the main streets of the city.

The choice to use cable for broadband access is limited to a minority of suburbs in central and western Perth, and it is only available from Telstra. While Optus has laid cable in the eastern states, it has not yet done so here.

p Next week’s issue: The companies that supply broadband access in Perth and the type of connections they offer.


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