IN response to the ongoing frustration among Malaga businesses over the inability to access to ADSL broadband access, the City of Swan has appointed a consultant to investigate demand for the service in the area.
Beale Telecommunications has been appointed by the City of Swan to produce a report by first quarter 2004 detailing the demand for ADSL and other broadband options in Malaga.
Businesses in Perth’s fastest growing industrial estate remain frustrated by the lack of ADSL broadband access despite persistent requests to Telstra to resolve the problem.
After more than 18 months of waiting for ADSL access, some Malaga businesses have instead spent thousands of dollars to install wireless antenna to receive alternative high-speed Internet.
Galvin Engineering joint director Chris Galvin said his company had this week installed an antenna, at greater cost than would have been the case if ADSL had been available.
“It [the situation] is critical. We’ve been limping along using a number of modems to access broadband and couldn’t wait any longer,” he said. “We have offices in Sydney and in Melbourne that access our servers here and had to high-speed Internet.”
Mr Galvin said the final decision to install an antenna came after being told that ADSL would not be available in Malaga for a further 12 months.
City of Swan CEO Eric Lumsden said that while telecommunications was not the core business of local government, the city had taken steps to try and resolve the problem in an economic capacity.
“There are 365 businesses east of Malaga Drive that cannot get broadband. A survey of the area showed that 38 of those businesses need ADSL immediately to efficiently run their businesses,” he said.
Mr Lumsden said Malaga was Perth’s largest industrial estate housing, with more than 1,600 businesses employing 10,000 people.
Member for Cowan Graham Edwards said the lack of ADSL was a major issue affecting business in the northern suburbs, and that he had discussed the problem with Telstra and raised it in parliament.
“Telstra contacted me a couple of weeks ago to let me know that they will upgrade facilities, but that is further north of Malaga,” he said.
“I think that what Telstra needs to do is have a major infrastructure upgrade.
“It’s really impacting not only the cost of small business, but their ability to grow.”
Telstra spokeswoman Catherine Emory said enabling broadband access was a priority for the telco, which was committed to ADSL rollout where there was demand.
Further, Ms Emory said Malaga was developed in an era before ADSL broadband.
“As Malaga was developed, broadband wasn’t even on the horizon. A voice network was designed and was the relevant technology of the day,” she said.
Ms Emory said safety was an area of concern when considering broadband installation in Malaga.
“In Malaga the network is designed around high voltage power lines. It will look for copper cable which, as you know is a conductor and there is a risk of it blowing up customers, technicians and telephone exchange systems in the area,” shesaid.
But Mr Edwards said: “That statement has mystified a number of people who can’t understand why it’s an issue in Malaga, but not in other areas.
“My own assessment is that they [Telstra] haven’t kept pace with technological growth and haven’t met their core responsibilities.”
Telstra offers broadband in several formats, including by satellite, by microwave, by Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and by ADSL.
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