ADSL is Delivering, But Not Always to Business: ISP

Melbourne-based ISP and network integrator GPM Internet has moved to dispel
industry rumours that Australia’s Asymetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
service is not operating efficiently, insisting the technology is sound but
its implementation is not always suiting business.

The company has responded to reported claims nationwide that particularly
corporate users are experiencing “brown-outs” when using ADSL. GPM Internet
business manager Chris Core maintains that the brown-outs are a result of
overly subscribed bandwidth rather than technology failures.

“As it stands at the moment, many corporate customers are using a
residential service to broadcast data, when they need a business class
service,” Core insisted. “Residential users have different traffic and
download patterns to business users, and they must be catered too.”

Core believed the slower services business users are receiving are because
while ADSL is up to 24 times faster than narrowband Internet access using a
64Kbps ISDN connection, the “contention ratio” can determine the actual
quality of the connection9s performance.

While the more commonly accepted
contention ratio for business class Internet services using ADSL is 20:1,
residential services typically have 50:1 or higher. If a business ADSL has
this ratio, the user9s service may not then be as fast as they expect.

The contention ratio relates to the nature of ADSL. The broadband data
service, which allows high speed Internet access over a standard copper
telephone line, is a “contended” service, which means that all customers
share the bandwidth allocated to an ISP.

Core also believed that some corporate customers are simply not receiving
what they are paying for. “At present, many corporate customers think they
are paying for a business class service, but they are not. These customers
are experiencing some problems.

“The market’s full of residential services that are dolled up for the
corporate market, because they can gain a premium of $5 to $10 on a $80 to
$90 service,” said Core. “We’re saying that the technological provision
required for the service needs more than $5 worth of infrastructure, but
nothing is currently stopping people from doing this.”

Core added that a number of ISPs have gone to industry watchdog the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to appeal for the
organisation to investigate the different pricing models that abound in the
market. “Some have realised that the price they are charging for retail
services is lower than wholesale charges, and they want to know why the
discrepancies are there,” he said.

According to Core, some of these problems came about when Tesltra offered
its ADSL service in a wholesale package to providers, at the time saying it
would not be releasing its own retail ADSL service. “Then it did, and it
dramatically changed the pricing models of ADSL,” said Core. “Some providers
decided to go after small residential customers instead for revenue. We
decided to stick to smaller and medium businesses.”

GPM has opted not to participate in this class action, as it uses Telstra’s
wholesale service and did not want to lose that access. “The horizon for
profitable returns is so far off that we can’t afford to bite the hand that
feeds us,” said Core.

Believing in the benefits of ADSL, Core said GPM has opted to highlight the
positives of the technology rather than the negative side in trying to gain
business users from residential and competitive business services. “Yes, we
are competing with Telstra, but we are also a customer of theirs, so it is
in our interests to highlight the positives of our service,” said Core. “IT
is for that reason that we mention phrases like ‘fixed addresses’.”

The fixed address operates similarly to the phone number traditional
Internet users would dial to access the Internet. Some residential services
provide a different address each time, however a static address is important
for businesses who have mail servers and similar infrastructure that needs
reliable and automatic connections.

Core’s claims are the latest in the saga that highlights ADSL’s contentious
beginnings in the Australian market. Telstra announced its pricing and
rollout strategy last July, but since then the technology has largely spread
in fits and bursts, with projects such as Telstra9s work in Launceston (see story)
aimed at building confidence in the technology and driving uptake.

Core said though that “the fact that ADSL has had some bad press recently
from business users is not a fault of the technology, rather its incorrect
implementation.” He maintained that interest in GPM Internet’s ADSL service,
launched last May, “has been outstanding,” with the company developing
solutions to integrate ADSL into most Local Area Network (LAN) situations
for its solely business customer base.

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