The introduction of digital subscriber line (DSL) services will greatly expand the availability of broadband high-speed data services in Australia.
Three events coincided to allow the mass introduction of DSL in Australia:
Unbundling of the local loop
- The ACCC forced Telstra to unbundle the local loop.
- DSL equipment has been adopted globally.
- The internet has exploded and voice and data have converged.
In July 1999, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ordered Telstra to open up the last mile of the national phone network to competitors. This represented the end of Telstra’s final area of monopoly the local call network and cleared the way for the introduction of DSL and other new services.
"Telstra’s competitors will be able to provide local and long-distance as well as advanced high-speed services to customers at lower prices," said ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels at the time. "The decision has large implications not only in the short-term for the provision of local calls, but for the emerging high-bandwidth services on which e-commerce, education and entertainment will increasingly rely into the next decade."
In March 2000, Telstra confirmed that it would provide the mandated access to unconditioned local lines (ULL), or ’raw copper’. New operators such as XYZed offering ULL products will create services by adding their own equipment, in this case DSL modems, to both ends of these newly available lines the customer’s premises and Telstra exchanges.
The popularity of the internet, expansion in telecommunications capacity, the convergence of voice and data through the Internet Protocol and regulatory opportunities have combined to create a solid business case for DSL in Australia.
New operators are free to introduce high-speed data services and offer e-commerce, video streaming and other high value applications. Combined with the falling cost of international bandwidth, this has opened up significant opportunities for providers to introduce highly customised services and to profit from advertising and other new revenue streams.
Ongoing regulatory issues
However, there remain some obstacles to the comprehensive delivery of DSL services in Australia. Remaining thorny issues include:
- The terms, conditions and degree of cooperation Telstra offers to competitive operators seeking access to unconditioned local lines and space within its exchanges.
- The pricing and terms and conditions associated with Telstra’s own retail and wholesale ADSL products.
- The extent to which DSL operators will be able to co-locate their access multiplexer (DSLAM) equipment at Telstra mini-exchanges (RIMs) positioned in the field close to new developments or business parks.
The resolution of these issues is monitored closely by the ACCC.