Despite recent upgrades to ADSL internet in Byron Shire, Bangalow residents are still complaining of a lack of being able to get a new ADSL connection.
An article in The Echo last week pointing out that Skennars Head had limited ADSL connectivity brought responses from residents that Bangalow is experiencing a similar ADSL drought, with one resident saying he had been told no new ADSL lines would be available until August.
And even then, speeds are set to remain at less than half of that available in surrounding areas such as Byron Bay, which will receive higher-speed technology in their upgrades.
A local industry insider told Echonetdaily there were not enough digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs) available at the exchange to meet the area’s growing demand.
Each DSLAM can connect a limited number of ADSL lines to the web, so more DSLAM hardware at the exchange means more users can connect via ADSL in that area.
The informant, who wishes to remain anonymous owing to his involvement in the industry, believes that ‘the industry may be reluctant to install new equipment’ amid ‘fears of a Commonwealth government forced buy-out for NBN infrastructure’.
A Telstra media spokesperson told Echonetdaily, however, that Bangalow does still have some service capability, despite reports we have received to the contrary.
‘Bangalow has a small number of ports available to customers who connect directly to the exchange and a similar number of ports available on street-side cabinets that also provide service to the Bangalow exchange serving area,’ said Telstra media group manager Ingrid Just.
She added that ‘Skennars Head is served by the Lennox Head exchange, which currently has more than 300 vacant ports’.
But our industry insider says it is not only a question of whether ADSL ports are available but where they are available from, as the old copper-line technology only works if it is within 4km of the nearest DSLAM.
‘People living in coastal areas such as Skennars Head, and even some parts of Ocean Shores, may benefit from additional DSLAM hardware,’ he said.
But for these and other areas distant from the exchange he said, ‘it may be a range issue as well’.
To improve ADSL range requires the installation of a RIM, essentially a mini-exchange connected to the main exchange by fibre optic cable.
These RIMs take on greater significance now that the former Labor government’s plan for the NBN to have fibre optic cable to the house has been scrapped in favour of the Liberals’ option of cable only to the ‘node’, (ie the exchange or RIM).
Telstra says it has ‘plans in place to improve the port capacity at both exchanges later in the year’, with Bangalow set to receive an upgrade in August and Lennox Head in July.
Interestingly, Telstra’s reports indicate that different upgrades will be taking place at these sites, with the Lennox Head exchange set to receive additional ports capable of speeds up to 20Mb/s, which is the same increase that Byron Bay is set to receive in November, whereas Bangalow’s new ports will only be capable of 8Mb/s.
Current ports available at either the Bangalow or Lennox Head sites also have a maximum capability of 8Mb/s so it seems the lag in Bangalow’s internet access compared to other local areas is set to continue.
Telstra’s reports on their port availability and planned upgrades are available at http://www.telstrawholesale.com/products/broadband/adsl/adsl-reports-plans/index.htm.