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Wednesday, 02 June 2010 18:41

Telstra Naked DSL trial: an emperor without clothes

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Telstra's launch of a trial of naked DSL is causing a great furore, but is it really a naked DSL service, or just a storm in a teacup over a Telstra marketing tactic?

Let's start by getting this straight. A naked DSL service is where an ISP rents Telstra's copper pair from the exchange to the customer and connects it into its own DSLAM in the exchange: ie it is completely disconnected from the Telstra network.

This is in contrast to other DSL services which are delivered over a copper pair that remains connected into the Telstra network and provides the standard telephone service. The customer can take this service form Telstra, the ISP providing the DSL service or another service provider but the phone service, at least from the Telstra exchange is delivered over the Telstra network.

This service known as line sharing or spectrum sharing and is made possible by some of the frequencies of signals on the copper pair being used for voice and come for DSL services - that's why you need those little filters on your phone line, to separate the voice and the DSL signals. Use of spectrum sharing does not significantly reduce the bandwidth available from the DSL service.

Both technologies are well established and have been in use in the Australian network for several years serving many thousands of homes and businesses. So any kind of technology trial is unnecessary.

If you look at the page on Telstra's web site (which I believe is its only public information on the trial so far) You would think it was offering a 'new and better' service: called ADSL2+. Here is what it says.

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"Naked DSL Broadband - superfast internet connection
BigPond Naked DSL is a high speed broadband service which lets you enjoy fast and reliable internet without having to pay for a home phone.
Superfast ADSL
Available for a strictly limited time only
Like to go faster?
For superfast broadband, ADSL2+ offers access speeds of up to 20Mbps2. That's up to 350 times faster than a standard 56kbps dial-up connection, and up to 78 times faster than a 256kbps ADSL connection. ADSL2+ is currently available in all major cities and many other major regional centres."


Well ADSL2+ is already widely available. This trial is not making it available in any new location and is not offering any upgraded capability of current ADSL2+ offerings.

It even says as much. "ADSL2+ is currently available in all major cities and many other major regional centres. So what on earth is this trial about?

OK it "lets you enjoy fast and reliable internet without having to pay for a home phone." So you have to decide if you want to rely solely on mobile of take a VoIP service from someone other than Telstra, because Telstra does not offer VoIP services.

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There are no prices on the Telstra web site, but youcompare.com.au has got hold of some. According to this site, the service cost $59.95 per month for 25GB and is only available on a two year contract (some trial!).

And if some of the posts on Whirlpool are to be believed, the service is not naked DSL. One poster claimed to be quoting usage terms that said: "You will be able to receive calls but will not be able to make any calls (except for emergency calls) from your premises using a fixed line. You agree not to acquire services from other carriage service providers, including using their access override code and you must not acquire a broadband service from another service provider which is provided using line sharing technology."

As I said at the beginning, in a true naked DSL service the line is physically disconnected from the Telstra network. So when naked DSL is provided by Telstra the idea gets a bit woolly.

Telstra can call it naked DSL, Nude DSL, or whatever it likes. Physically how it is delivered, only Telstra knows. If that statement of usage terms is correct, either the user has dial tone and can make calls and the service is delivered using line sharing, or Telstra is providing a VoIP service.

I'm sure all will be revealed eventually but right now the whole thing does not add up. And I really question Telstra's supposed low key announcement of something that does potentially represent a major shift in its approach to retail broadband offerings. It has generated six pages of postings on Whirlpool in 24 hours.




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