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Telstra Adds New Remote Net Access, Expands ADSL Trials

Telecommunications carrier Telstra has developed two new digital data services (DDS), to expand Internet access particularly for Australians in remote areas.

Telstra is providing a Basic Rate ISDN service called OnRamp, for customers living within a radial four kilometre distance of an ISDN exchange in metropolitan areas.

This is complemented by its Big Pond Advance Satellite (BPAS) downlink service, through its Big Pond ISP. This is available to people living and working in remote areas of Australia who area unable to access a basic rate ISDN service.

Both OnRamp and BPAS are currently available from Telstra at standard commercial rates, and both provide a digital data capability broadly comparable to 64 kilobits per second (kbps).

The services follow Telstra's being named as a General and a Special DDS Provider by the Federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on October 20.

Ninety six per cent of the population falls within General DDS area, however those in remote areas will be entitled to a rebate of up to 50 per cent, AUS$765 (US$505), on the purchase and installation of the satellite equipment needed to receive data services.

Telstra will soon release for public comment primary drafts for the General and Special DDS, that will outline customer's rights and the telco's obligations in relation to the OnRamp and BPAS services.

In related news, Telstra has selected the Queensland city of Toowoomba as a regional participant in its high speed Internet trial using Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL).

This is the technology that supports broadband services on existing copper twisted pair telephone lines, so that people can make telephone calls while simultaneously surfing the Internet.

ASDL is suited to high-speed Internet access and services such as interactive media, collaborative computing, video conferencing and virtual private networks. The technology is also attractive because it requires little infrastructure upgrade at the user's end, beyond an ASDL modem.

"Toowoomba was selected because it is large enough, and has the right combination of potential business and residential users, to allow us to test these processes," said David Stokes-McKeon, managing director of Telstra's Convergent Business Next division

This trial is an extension of one announced earlier this year, which will involve around 100 wholesale and retail customers on selected telephone exchanges in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Telstra intends for ASDL to extend its broadband data and Internet access technologies offered to users in urban areas, and complement satellite and Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial Cable services, Stokes-McKeon said. The trial is expected to be completed by August 2000.



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