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Telstra Holds Off on Scrapping Copper

From Australia.internet.com

Telstra, the partly-privatised government telecommunications carrier, has bowed to public pressure from the Internet service provider (ISP) industry and delayed its plans for a year to discontinue a popular copper-based connectivity product.

Permitted Attached Private Lines (PAPLs) are circuits of copper lines, typically between office buildings, that were being used by ISPs to carry Internet traffic by running various flavours of DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop) technology.

Telstra notified its ISP customers last month that it would be extending the roll-out of its digital network to by replacing some of those copper wires used for PAPLs with optic fibre cables, meaning that after December it could not guarantee that PAPLs could be used for DSL.

The lines were originally intended to act as alarm circuits for fire or security purposes, and are priced at a tenth of the cost of the equivalent connections on Telstra's digital network.

Telstra now said that it will continue its digital roll-out, but in situations where it breaks the continuity of a copper line, it will provide an "equivalent service capability at the same cost as a PAPL." This guarantee lasts only until the end of September 1999, or when the Australian Communications Industry Forum publishes standards for access to Telstra's network, the company said.

In other Telstra news, the Australian Federal Government has announced that it intends to cap the universal service obligation (USO) cost at $253.32 million for the 1997/98 year, by industry agreement or by legislation. The USO is a payment made by all other telecommunications carriers in Australia to Telstra, to compensate it for the loss it makes on running the national network that the others rely on.

Telstra had made a claim of $1.8 billion for the USO, but the government's figure closely resembles the $250 million agreed to for each of the previous three years.

The previous fees were jointly paid by Optus and Vodafone, who were the only carriers at the time, but after deregulation of the market in July 1997 there are now more than a dozen licensed carriers who will share the USO cost burden.

The Australian Communications Authority will determine the relative costs using a methodology it is in the process of developing.



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